Given that nearly half of all seniors need help with their daily activities, you need to find ways to help parents as they age. Caring for aging parents is a generous but stressful fact of life where we give back to our parents who devoted so much time to caring for us. If you’re not sure what it takes from you, you need to prepare yourself.
Here are four ways to ensure you don’t overburden yourself.
1. Assess The Situation
When you’re thinking about caring for your aging family, you might be clouded with emotion. It’s challenging to come up with a fair assessment for what your family members really need when it comes to help them get by in old age. You might think that they’re more mobile than they are or that they’re not as independent as they might think they are.
Talk to your loved one if you can and see how they feel about their health and their mobility. If you find that they’re not particularly optimistic, then you should consider moving them to a facility. If they think there’s a way to balance things out with a few hours of help every week, then you might be able to manage things with your family and friends.
If you’re considering a facility, get to know the differences between nursing homes and assisted living.
Not everyone needs care around the clock. Some just need help making dinner at night or getting in and out of the tub. Others might just need a few hours a week to feel more social and confident about the things they would otherwise be doing on their own.
Spend the day with your loved one and make some notes. Write down what kinds of help they seem to need and which tasks they struggle with. This will give you a more realistic understanding of what they need.
2. The Sick Can’t Help The Ill
No matter what your situation is, there are sure to be a wide variety of pressures that you’re dealing with when you have to care for a loved one. While it might make you feel selfish, you need to prioritize your health before you start caring for someone else. If you’re sick in bed, you can’t be expected to care for your loved one, no matter how important it is to you.
You need to get a certain amount of rest and health care just to maintain a minimum level of well-being. You need to worry about your mental health and the possibility of burning out. Just because you want to be there for your loved one doesn’t mean you should neglect your own needs.
Your loved one is going to need more attention than you do, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t think about your own needs. You can’t care for someone if you’re dead tired and can’t get out of bed in the morning. If you’re unable to get through the day, how can you be expected to care for someone else?
Make sure you eat right, don’t disrupt your sleep schedule, and continue to get a healthy amount of exercise. Rather than lowering the priority for these things, the priority needs to be increased, otherwise, a 24-hour bug could turn into a week-long slowdown.
3. Look For Assistance
You might think that you’re the only one who is available to help or you might not want to bother other people, but you need to get comfortable asking for help. If you’re one of several siblings, you need to be able to ask your family for help in caring for your parent or relative. You might not all be able to help equally, but you shouldn’t shoulder the burden alone.
If you’re struggling to ask family, start by asking people for specific shifts. If you know someone has every Saturday off and you need to start taking Saturdays off, ask them to step in for a few hours. If they can’t handle the personal care, having them run the errands you’re struggling to do could be a huge help to you.
If you and everyone else work full-time, there are lots of adult day programs for aging seniors. Your aging parents don’t need to be sitting at home alone and you can’t help them if you’re working full time. A way for them to socialize and for you to take a break from caring for them could go a long way in helping to maintain your daily life.
For families with the money, you could pitch in for some in-home care. There are groups that have vetted and trained people for this kind of work and there are people who have experience and do it on their own. Interview a few candidates until you find the right one.
4. Make a Split Schedule
If you’re the one who has been taking on the burden of caring for your aging parents on your own, it’s time to split things up. As mentioned above, siblings and other close relatives should be able to share the responsibility with you so that you don’t get overburdened.
Find a way to split time, every few months with having your parents stay with a different sibling. If that’s too much, a few weeks at a time could give you the much-needed rotation that helps keep your life on track.
Ultimately you need to reduce the financial and time pressures that elder care puts on a family. You want to love your parents as they climb into their senior years. If you don’t put together a schedule to relieve time and money stress, you could end up resenting them and having bad feelings about the people you love the most.
Caring for Aging Parents Takes Time
If you’re concerned with caring for aging parents, you’re going to have to find ways to ease the potential stress. Without a plan in place, you could end up putting too much pressure on your family and making the situation worse for everyone.
If you want to brighten up the decor before your loved one gets there, check out our guide for tips.