Your parents took care of you when you were a child, maybe even throughout your entire life, and now it’s time to take care of them. You could say it’s the circle of life.
When parents age, life becomes extremely difficult for both you and them. They have concerns about losing their independence. You have concerns about their health and safety.
You have a couple of options when it comes to the care of your aging parents. One is you could put them in a nursing home, where they would get 24-hour care. But, most people don’t want to live in a nursing home when they are elderly. Often, aging parents express concern to their children about being put in a nursing home, pleading for them not to put them there.
That said, the other option is to take care of your parents at home. In-home care is the best option for your elderly parents. They’ll have family and friends to support them and care for them. They’ll be in a familiar environment where they feel safe.
The problem is that in-home care requires a lot of work — from you. Taking care of your aging parents requires you to be attentive and at your best. You have to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your parents. If you don’t, you’re likely to burn out.
The good news is that you can use tips to ensure that your parents are being cared for, and you’re taking care of yourself. These tips will help you take care of your parents at your own pace. Remember, if you go at your own pace, you’re less susceptible to burnout.
Follow these tips for caring for your aging parents:
Decide How Much Care is Needed
Although your parents are aging, they may not need as much care as you think. To determine how much care is needed, you should talk to your parents about their needs, spend a few days watching what needs to be accomplished and taking notes, and then start a caregiver notebook.
A caregiver notebook will help you stay organized, ensure that tasks are completed properly and safely, and keep you healthy. With a detailed notebook, you’ll avoid feeling stressed out, which ultimately could lead to illness.
When working on your caregiver notebook, there are eight important aspects of your parents’ lives you need to understand:
- Home safety
- Family support
- Medical needs
- Cognitive health
- Personal hygiene
- Meal preparation
- Social interaction
Knowing every aspect of your parents’ lives and keeping a detailed report of their needs is the first step to caregiving. Once your caregiver notebook is complete, you can move on to the next step. Be sure to have everything you need in your notebook. You don’t want to miss a vital medication for your mother.
Know the Finances
Without knowing how much money you have to work with, you won’t know how much you can do for your parents. Write down all expenditures for your parents, including medications, doctors, medical equipment, adult diapers, housing (if they’re not living with you), and more.
After getting a detailed report of the finances, think about if you can afford your parents’ care. If not, there are government programs, such as Medicaid, that can help you with costs. Moreover, be smart with the finances, look out for special deals on products you would regularly require for your parents. For instance, diapers can take away a significant chunk of your budget. Therefore, keep a lookout for deals where you can find adult diapers for sale and order in bulk.
Have a Realistic View of What You Can Do
Caregiver stress is such a prominent problem that the American Psychological Association developed a caregiver questionnaire to assess caregivers’ stress levels. Caregiver stress is the focus of many studies that assess how caregiver stress affects mental health. In one particular study, researchers indicated that caregiving stress causes depression and anxiety in caregivers.
Since caregiver stress causes depression and anxiety (among other ailments), it’s vital to have a realistic view of what you can accomplish. After reviewing your caregiver notebook, you may feel overwhelmed and realize you can’t take care of your parents alone.
At this point, you’d need to call in help from family and friends. You might also need to hire an in-home nurse, depending on your parents’ needs.
Call Out for Help
Most likely, you’ll realize you need help. This is when you call for your support. While your family and friends are taking care of your parents, they are taking care of you.
If you had to do it all by yourself, you’re going to feel overwhelmed, and a little resentful. To avoid these stressful feelings that can lead to depression and anxiety, always get help.
Include Your Parents
Your parents are already worried about losing their independence. By including them in care planning, they’ll feel like they have some control over what happens to them.
The best thing to do is to go slow. Start helping out by doing the dishes, for example. Then, try to help by cleaning the whole house.
Unless they’re in danger, never take over their whole lives all at once. Go easy, and the transition will be an easy one.
Keep Communication Simple and Easy
Your parents are elderly, and technology, like cell phones, may be hard to understand. Make sure their phones are easy to use. Pre-program important numbers, such as yours, so they’re reassured that all they have to do is push a button and someone will help them.
Take Help From Professionals
You shouldn’t take care of your parents alone. There’s help out there that you can use. They are:
- Geriatric care managers
- In-home caregiving help
- Assisted living communities
- Geriatricians (geriatric doctors)
- Community centers for the elderly
The resources for aging adults are available. Do your research. Finding the right help is essential not only to your parents’ health but also to yours.