They were there for us. Through our helpless years, our adolescent years, and then cheering us on through our adult years. But now, the time has come when they need us to be there for them.
Caring for an aging parent certainly brings challenges. But it also presents beautiful opportunities. You can strengthen your bond, share special times, and know they’re getting the care they need.
We’ve created a guide with 7 tips for caring for an aged parent. Read on to see how you can thrive while taking care of your parents.
1. Assess Their Needs
Very few of those caring for aging parents were experts in the field before they started. Even though we know our parents well, it can be very difficult to know the best way to help them.
This is where a strategic approach can help. If their level of need is still relatively low, you may be able to assess where they need help. Think about the daily tasks that make up your parent’s routine.
Now observe how they’re getting on. Note down how much assistance they need. This will give you an idea of how much help they need, and the type of assistance they require.
If their needs are more complex, speak to their doctor about getting an expert in senior care to assess their needs. They will be able to create a care plan so you know exactly how to support them.
2. Let Your Parent Lead
Once you know their needs, it’s easy to want to take over. The best course for you, and for them, is to help them to maintain as much of their independence as possible. This will help them to remain sharp and keep their sense of purpose.
Doing tasks together helps them to maintain their dignity. Ask them to show you how they like things to be done. This is also a great chance to bond!
3. Maintain Love and Respect
It’s impossible to care for elderly parents without it having an emotional impact. Stressful moments will happen and it’s easy for tempers to become frayed.
That said, the unique bond between parent and child gives you the opportunity to provide them with the very best of care. Even if you are being hired by your parent as their caregiver, they will not see you as an employee. Maintaining love and respect for each other will help to preserve the parent-child relationship.
Learning to let things go and say sorry will help. Also, show that you still respect them as your parent. Give them their dignity and privacy. Maintain boundaries and talk openly when you have to provide sensitive support such as personal care.
4. Don’t Go It Alone
Sadly, carer burnout is a real thing and something that you want to avoid. If you notice that you’re developing any of the following symptoms, it’s time to get some support:
- Depression or anxiety
- Sleeping difficulties
- Negative emotions such as resentfulness
- Overindulging in food or alcohol
- Feeling overly tired
It’s good to talk things over with family, or a close, sympathetic friend. If you’re suffering from depression, talk things over with your doctor. Support is there — you don’t have to go it alone.
It may be possible to share more of the caring responsibilities among other family members. Friends may be happy to run errands and care for other jobs. Be open to accepting help — no one can do it all!
5. Simplify Arrangements Where Possible
Some tasks can be very time-consuming and take a lot of energy. If you’re struggling, for example, with preparing meals for yourself and your aging parent, look into services that can help.
Several companies will provide nutritious, balanced meals designed to appeal to seniors. As good nutrition is such an important part of home healthcare, this can really help to lighten the load.
Additionally, you can make use of technology to assist. Do you need to be home all the time, or can a medical alert system be set up? Do you have a friendly neighbor who would be happy to check on them from time to time?
All these options can provide an extra level of reassurance, and reduce your stress.
6. Take Time to Rest
All of us get tired and need a vacation from time to time. When you’re taking care of your parents, you can feel like there’s no respite. They need you 24/7 and that’s just the way it is.
Actually, they need you healthy. And that means that you need to get proper rest as well. That doesn’t just mean time out of the house. It means time away when you are not responsible, but know that they are being well cared for.
Some families are able to arrange this in the family. For others, this might not be possible. Respite care services can provide the support you would normally give so that you can get some much-needed downtime.
7. Plan for the Future
It can be a difficult topic to broach with parents and family members. When your parents are still relatively healthy though is the best time to plan for what will happen if their health deteriorates.
It’s good if all family members concerned can get together with your aging parent and discuss this. There may be an assumption that you or another sibling/relative will take most of the responsibility. But it’s much easier if, at this point, you plan now how everyone in the family can help.
Survive and Thrive While Taking Care of an Aging Parent
You want to give your aging parent the very best golden years they possibly can. And you will if you plan well and follow these suggestions. Remember that you’re never alone, even if you don’t have immediate family to support you.
The CDPAP program is there to help seniors choose their own carer. This can include employing family members who they know will give them great care. Family Always First Home Care is here to help you navigate the CDPAP Program.
Click here for more information on the program and to check if you are eligible.