We become used to the notion that our parents will always be around to care for us and help us cope with our day-to-day life, so it can come as a surprise when they may need us to care for them instead. To see our once independent parents require assistance can be saddening, but them needing help does not necessarily mean a change for the worse.
While there can be challenges associated with caring for elderly parents, there are ways to deal with these challenges head-on so that you and your parent can continue living their lives with minimal disruption. Here are some tips on how you can help care for your elderly parent:
Most of us will want to care for our parents, especially considering how much time, energy, and money they have spent on us as children, teenagers, and even adults. But this may not be realistic. There is a lot to consider, from financial costs associated with caring for your parents to how much time you can spend caring for them. You may have a family of your own for a full-time job, for example. If this is the case, you may be required to hire additional help and caregivers to ensure your parent’s needs are met and everyone is kept happy and well.
Take a step back and assess your elderly parent’s needs. Key areas you need to assess include:
- Cognitive health
- Mobility issues
- Social interaction
- Day-to-day living (e.g., meal preparation)
- Safety within their homes
For instance, if your parent suffers from memory loss, then this would fall under cognitive health. To assist your parent with this particular issue, you may need to constantly remind your parent about tasks that need to be done or check whether they have remembered to feed themselves or turn off the oven.
Speak to Your Parent
Growing old and losing our independence can cause depression. It is essential that you speak with your parent and discuss all the options available to them and why it is in their best interests to accept help. Do not be surprised if you are met with resistance at first, but this sure to change as they become to understand your reasonings.
Unless it is an emergency, you should not attempt to force change too quickly. It may take a few weeks or even months before they come around to the idea of assisted living or needing to move from a two-story house to a bungalow because of poor mobility. The best way to approach these subjects is to read articles and helpful guides on the many senior care options available to you and passing on your learnings to your parent.
Don’t Neglect Your Own Needs
Your needs are just as important as those of your parent. If you are unable to care for yourself, then you are only going to harm your mental and physical health in the process of caring for them. While your parent would most certainly prefer for you to be their primary caregiver, you should not feel guilty if this is not feasible.
Ask yourself the following questions before taking on the role and responsibilities of being your parent’s carer:
- Are you mentally and physically well enough to care for someone else?
- Do you have a family of your own to care for?
- Does your work allow you enough free time?
- Will you be able to financially afford being a full-time carer?
- Do you have the right temperament?
While you want your parent to be healthy and happy, many of us are unable to care for them not only because of situational reasons but because we do not have the personality or temperament to do so. Being your parent’s caregiver can cause strain on our relationships, so if this is something you wish to avoid, then hiring help could be better for family dynamics.
Caring for your parent is a full-time job and one that comes with many challenges. Therefore, you need to properly assess the best course of action. Before making any promises to your mother or father, be sure to review all the options available to you. Assisted living and onboarding a carer into your parent’s life is a wonderful way to ensure you can go about your life while knowing your parent is being well looked after.