Caring for aging parents can feel like an overwhelming task. This article explores the X steps you need to take to make things easier for you and your senior loved ones.
Most of us come and grow in a world where our parents are healthy, strong, and independent. But, it’s only as we grow, and they age, when we see that they are far from everlasting. Our parents’ hearing weakens, their memories dim, and their walking slows. Over time, as they become seniors, they need more and more of our assistance.
Caring for an elderly parent isn’t an easy task. It can be overwhelming, tiring, stressful, and frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be. Caring for yourself as well and getting assistance when you need it will help you see caring for your old parents as less of a burden.
Here are four steps to take when caring for your aging parents to turn the “problem” of aging parents needing help into a realistic and helpful plan.
Step one: Understand your parents’ needs
The first step you need to take when you think about becoming your parents’ caregiver is to understand their needs. Aging parents can need assistance with a number of tasks. Since their health situation and their degrading sanity may prevent them from being self-sufficient, they might need support in a number of key areas.
So, take a moment to understand exactly what your aging parents need to have a healthy and happy retirement. Consider these crucial areas and make sure to include your parents in the process to identify better and understand their needs:
Once the list is completed, think about how much help your senior parents are already getting in some of these areas. Also, think of the areas where they could need some extra help. Yet, realistically speaking, it is impossible for only one caregiver to be able to help aging parents with so many tasks. This takes us to step two.
Step two: Think about your own abilities.
Once you assess your parents’ needs, it is time to think about how much of these needs you can actually fulfill. It’s not that you may not want to help your parents, sometimes it may be the fact that you’re not qualified enough to do it. When looking over the list of needs of your parents, you may realize that you need help with a variety of tasks.
A senior’s care needs can vary from help with some tasks around the house to help with daily activities like eating and personal care or medical assistance. So, while you may be able to help your parents with various tasks around the house, shopping, or other daily activities, you may simply not have the ability to provide medical assistance as well. In this case, you may have to take your parents to their medical specialist. Or, if you can’t afford to travel to your parents’ house and to the doctor too often, you can use telehealth solutions, in which case your parents will be able to get medical assistance via phone or video calls.
Another thing you should consider is whether or not you can visit your parents as often as they need you to. For example, a health condition on your own or living too far away may make it challenging for you to always be there for your seniors when they need you. In this case, taking your aging parents to a nursing home or using home care services may be a better solution for both you and your parent who needs help.
The point is that you need to be realistic about what you can help your parents with and what you may also need some support for.
Step Three: Remove safety hazards from around the house
You may not be able to move your aging parents to your own home for a number of reasons, be it that you have a family of your own, you lack the space, or you live too far away from your parents’ house. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go above and beyond to ensure that, even if they don’t live with you, your parents are safe in their home. To do so, make sure that you visit your parents and remove all safety hazards that may be a risk for aging people.
Some of the home safety basics include:
If you are able to ask your parents to move in with you, make sure that you also adapt your home to make it safety risks-free for them.
Step Four: Take care of your own mental health.
As an adult, you likely have your own family, job, and a dozen of other responsibilities. Caring for your aging parents can be an extra task that may take a toll on your mental wellbeing.
Besides experiencing burnout, after running around all day long to complete your tasks while also help your parents, seeing your parents beginning to lose functioning is also an experience that may affect you mentally and emotionally.
So, it is crucial to also care for your overall health, both mental and physical wellbeing. If you start feeling overwhelmed by joggling between all these tasks, don’t be afraid to ask for help to support your aging parents.