One day your parent seems fine and then the next day it seems like they’ve aged tremendously.
It’s sad when you realize that your once young and vibrant parent has become an elderly person needing your help.
Sometimes it feels like they’ve gone from taking care of you and then in the next moment they’re suddenly relying upon you to look after them.
Or, in the case of some elderly parents they’re hiding the fact that they need you to care for them in order that they can keep their independence. Then a major event happens that brings this need to be cared for to the forefront.
Making this transition into caring for an elderly parent can take a toll on your emotional well-being and theirs as well.
We care for our parents out of love and we don’t want them to end up in a place or situation where they are not cared for. Sometimes it’s impossible for us to properly care for them so we have to look into facilities or on-site help to keep them in their home as they make this transition from independant living.
If you find yourself in this situation, having to take more care of your elderly parent or being more involved in their affairs here are four ways that you can ensure that you care for them without compromising your own health and well-being.
- Make Lists of What They Need
It’s helpful to make a list of all the things that your parent needs help with right now. When you’re thinking about that list includes all of the daily activities that you need to assist with as part of their normal health and care routine.
Then make a second list of all the things you think they will need to have help with in the future.
Some of the things on this second list are:
- What will happen when there are not able to drive anymore?
- What normal daily care and health routine will they need help with in th future?
- What kind of access do they have to get help if they need it?
- What financial resources do they have?
Making these two separate lists will help you visualize and think about what they need now and also in the future so that you are prepared.
It’s better to make these lists and kind of have a plan of action in place for the future rather than waiting until it becomes more urgent.
If you have siblings, you definitely want to make sure that everyone is pitching in to help and understands the situation of your parents. Keep in mind that in most situations research shows that in 90% of families one sibling takes on the majority of care. This can happen because of proximity to the parent or because of parent-child relationships.
Everyone has a different idea of what their role should be in caring for an elderly parent and at times it can be hard to coordinate all of these expectations and desires.
Just understand that it is normal that caring for an elderly parent is not usually split evenly between siblings.
2. Take time to Educate Yourself
Take the time to educate yourself because you need to know about what facilities there are in plans that you can use to help care for your parents. Think of it this way knowledge is not just power it is also a way to lower your stress levels because you’re taking care of things in the best way possible.
Here are a couple of examples for you to consider
- Do you know the local respite facilities?
- Do you have back-up to help you while you help them?
- Do you know how to best take care of medical bills and facility bills?
Don’t take on the role of a caretaker so that the whole rest of your life gets taken over by this and everything seems to fall apart, including your health and well-being.
Understand that you cannot do it all alone and that nobody should expect you to.
3. Setting Boundaries is important
Setting proper boundaries can be tricky at times. You love your parents but you need to have good boundaries in place so that you don’t become resentful.
Yes you’re going to feel pressure and stress at times after all you’re worried about your parents’ well-being comfort and health while also feeling like it’s a burden. these emotions can feel very stressful.
especially if you are managing everything all by yourself with no help from your family. you need to set good boundaries and find a way to feel okay about saying no or taking a time out for yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
4. Find Safe People To Talk With
When you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s a good idea to have someone that you can discuss your situation with that is understanding and supportive to your situation.
Speaking openly Like this will help release tension and work to manage your emotional health and well-being. It’s important to find someone who is empathetic and a good listener like a spouse a friend or even a professional.
Resist the temptation to keep it all inside and not share your emotions and feelings. honestly it’s hard enough to care for elderly parents and don’t add to the stress by keeping all of those feelings pent up inside of you.
Getting things off your chest and talked out will help you feel so much better
And while you’re at it, take a moment to step back and appreciate yourself for all of the effort you’re putting into caring for your elderly parents.
And also while you’re in this stage of life with your elderly parents it’s also good to find time to lovingly bond with them as best you can. Especially if you know that you are getting close to their end-of-life you want to make sure that you have closure.
Getting help to deal with this aspect of your relationship with your parents is a very smart choice and will help you to navigate this particular phase in both of your lives.
To sum it all up, I suggest that you start with making the list and educating yourself. don’t forget those all-important boundaries and finding someone support that you can talk with as you navigate caring for an elderly parent
Caring for your elderly parent or parents does not need to be an all-consuming and stressful situation.