No one likes to think about the logistical difficulties of getting older or of caring for elderly family members, but the subject always comes up eventually. After seeing what their grandparents have gone through in a care facility, many adults find themselves promising never to put their parents in a nursing home. It’s easy enough to make this promise, but keeping it is a different story.
Senior citizens account for more than 15% of the population. Although many adult children want to provide in-home care for their aging parents, doing so is always challenging and sometimes impossible. Space constraints, busy schedules, and other obstacles often lead to stress, frustration, and eventual nursing home placement. And as people are living longer, care for the elderly is becoming increasingly expensive and all-consuming.
So what can you do to make sure your parents get the care they need at home to maintain a good quality of life, without you completely rearranging your own world? Here are some tips.
Aging in Place: Things to Think About
Before you make any decisions about caregiving, it’s important to think about what your family’s needs and limitations are. Most people don’t stop to think about everything they do for their elderly parents on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, they just do them as needed. Start taking some notes so you can figure out what the essential duties of caregiving are in your specific situation. From there, you can make a plan.
You should also keep in mind that you and your family have limitations. You have to look out for your own physical and mental health as well as that of your parents. After you’ve taken notes on your caregiving activities, take stock of how much you can realistically handle. What tasks do you need help with and how much can you do yourself sustainably? It’s very important to prevent burnout.
Getting Help Taking Care of Your Loved Ones
If you want to give your family members the best care possible, then you need to realize that you can’t do it all on your own. You will need some help, whether it’s just the occasional meal from a friend and help with errands or a hired in-home caregiver a few days a week. Only you can assess how much help you’ll need, and those needs might change over time.
There are lots of options for getting help. It’s a good idea to ask other family members to step in, if possible, and to explore paid assistance. There are also volunteer programs for senior companionship that could give you a much-needed break. Even meal delivery or day programs can help to take some of the burden off and give you some time to yourself.
Care for Yourself so You Can Care for Your Parents
Physicians diagnose around 70% of aging adults with persistent anxiety and mood disorders. But mental health issues can also affect the people who are caring for the elderly. It’s draining to always be thinking about the needs of others, without pausing to take time for yourself.
Taking care of your parents is challenging, and you can’t do it properly if your tank is empty. You must make sure that you take care of yourself so that you have the stamina to meet the daily challenges of caring for your loved ones. Get the help you need so that you have the peace of mind to get some exercise or read a book when you need to. The demands of life and caregiving can be overwhelming and you need to take your own self-care needs seriously.
Caring for Your Parents Is About More Than Chores
The daily work of being a caregiver can feel a lot like a series of chores. While tending to your parents’ physical needs is important, it’s also important to remember that caring for elderly family members is about more than just chores. It’s about making sure that your parents’ emotional and mental needs are met as well.
Life is about more than just survival. As a caregiver, it’s so crucial to ensure that quality of life is kept as high as possible, which means facilitating positive interactions and paying attention to the relationship. Your parents are still your parents, and it’s important to remember that they need more from you than just help getting dressed in the morning. They need your love, focus, and respect.