Most people choose to keep their elderly parents at home for various reasons. It’s a wonderful choice as long as it is safe for everyone involved. As you will soon find out, taking care of an elderly parent can be the most rewarding task, but it’s also the toughest and can be quite stressful.
Caregivers have a high chance of suffering from burnouts, and without proper care and experience, you could also suffer from severe health and mental conditions.
You need a few tips that will help make the task easier and allow you to pace yourself throughout the process.
Assess the amount of care needed
Your first task should be to assess how much care your elderly parent needs. Be cautious not to take on too much responsibility from the start. You can easily get overwhelmed and forget to look after your own health.
Put together a list of daily, weekly and monthly tasks. This list will give you a good idea of the type and frequency of care required. It can also shed light on whether you need help during the day, at night, or on weekends.
Have a notebook where you keep count of the times that your parent needs help. Within a week, you should have a comprehensive list of tasks and a good measure of the required amount of care.
When it comes to parents, you can’t fight the feeling that you can do just about anything for them. But for your sake and that of your parents, you should remain realistic about what you can handle and accept when you need help.
Be honest about the level of care you can provide without sacrificing your own relationships, health and other responsibilities. Taking on too much can lead to a burnout, which means you both don’t have anyone to care for you.
Acknowledging that taking care of seniors has its challenges and rewards is critical. If you can, enrol help as soon as possible to avoid taking on too much.
It’s okay to get help, don’t feel guilty about it
Looking for help might feel like you’re neglecting your elderly parent. But you’re not. You’re only making it possible for you to take care of them longer.
There’s no shame in hiring some additional help. There are several ways you can source for assistance, all of which might suit different caregivers in different situations.
- You can enrol your parent in an adult day program. It’s a great way to get them to socialise and make new friends, and it gives you some time to rest.
- Hiring a caregiver to help around the house daily or at intervals is also another excellent alternative. It will half your duties, and you also get to learn from the caregiver.
- When the budget is tight, you can source for a volunteer senior companion who can take your parent for walks and excursions.
- You should also adjust your shopping methods and try to buy items in bulk. This cuts back on the emergency trips, which can at times, make you feel overwhelmed.
If you have friends or family living nearby, you can also ask them to run simple errands for you. When they come over, don’t shy away from asking them to help you with small housekeeping tasks or even spending some time with your parent as you get some rest.
Share caregiving responsibilities
When you’re doing an excellent job of taking care of your parent, those around you can’t tell when you need help. All you need to do is ask when you need assistance.
You can ask your siblings, a close relative, a friend, or even your spouse to assist with some caregiving responsibilities to relieve some of the pressure.
Go for ready-made meals
Nutrition is essential for seniors. A sumptuous, hot and nutritious meal can go a long way in helping to fight disease, maintain good health and prevent malnutrition.
Making every meal from scratch takes time and effort. Sometimes, you don’t even have the energy. You can leverage the benefit of ready-made meals. These provide a steady and consistent flow of nutrition for your parents and boost their overall health without weighing you down or adding extra pressure.
Keep your parent engaged and active
One of the benefits of living independently is being able to do the things you’ve always loved. It’s important to get your parent to their favourite religious, recreational and social activities regularly. This not only helps to boost physical and mental strength but can also elevate their mood and allow them to live a happier and longer life.
You can talk to their peers or your friends who might be willing to take your parent to their engagements when you’re unable.
Make the home accessible and safe
Slips and falls are a real concern for the elderly, especially when they are alone at home. By making your home safer and more accessible, you can mitigate some of these dangers. Making such adjustments can also allow your parent to be more independent, lessening the amount of work you have to do in a day.
The modifications required are usually minimal but have substantial benefits for both you and your parent.
Look for safe transportation options
Turning over the keys to your car feels like giving away a part of your life. Although it is hard, it has to be done. But it doesn’t mean that it should limit the elderly from moving around. You can look around for senior transportation services that will get your parent to their destination and back home safely and efficiently.
Such services can also help minimise the number of trips you have to make in a day, allowing you to better organise and pace yourself.
Assess the financial obligations and also the assistance options
Caring for an elderly parent is not an easy task both physically and financially. At first, it can seem impossible. But there are various resources available that will save you from quitting your job or wiping out your savings.
Take time to research and understand your options. Straining financially can affect your mental health and ability to take care of your parent. With alternatives, you have peace of mind and better control of the situation.
Don’t neglect yourself
You have to understand, none of this would be possible without you. Remember to do the things you love, don’t sacrifice your happiness, and above all, have some alone time where you can re-energize and rejuvenate.
If you can execute these few tips, taking care of elderly parents won’t be as hard as it seems. The most important takeaway is to have a support system around you that you can lean on when you feel overwhelmed.