As elder law attorneys, we often speak with clients who could potentially become caregivers in the future. Many of these clients are professionals who have careers of their own. Some may actually work in the healthcare industry. Individuals in this position may feel uniquely qualified to provide care for their parents.
Most professionals are busy at work. They don’t always have the ability to take on another job. However, when a person agrees to act as a caregiver, they are doing precisely that.
If the client is a physician and has a parent who needs a caregiver because of a particular medical condition, they may be more likely to take charge, even if there are other siblings available to help out. As a physician, that client has a unique understanding of the healthcare industry and knows what to expect from hospital visits, and knows what questions to ask.
However, before long, the child may find themselves burning the candle at both ends. While the physical and emotional health of the parent may have marked improvement, their own health may begin to suffer..
Nancy Snyderman, a Princeton, New Jersey physician, found herself in this situation.
Nancy’s parents moved to Princeton from Indiana to be closer to her. About a year after they arrived in Princeton, Nancy’s father contracted shingles. His life was in jeopardy, and Nancy became his caregiver. She simultaneously practiced medicine full-time.
In a recent AARP Magazine article, Nancy remembered, “During the tough times I, like so many others, forgot to check in with myself. Within months I had put on 15 pounds, was sleeping five hours a night and was just emotionally raw. I didn’t know then what I know now — that caregiver burnout is real and that the stress of caregiving comes on like a full-frontal assault.”
Nancy recognized the need for a more holistic approach. Once her father got back on firm footing, she took a step back and worked with her siblings to share the caregiving duties. She was able to put her life back into balance again.
Others who may be potential caregivers can learn from Nancy’s experience. Regardless of your level of commitment, there is only so much that one person can do.
It is best to approach caregiving with balance and pragmatism. Recognize your limitations, communicate with family members, and ask for help when you need it.
Sanford M. Fisch
CEO & Co-Founder
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555