As we need to care for aging parents, we’re slowly forced to come to terms with the new roles we take on in life: they grow increasingly dependent on us, and we need to ‘grow up’ and become the caregiver.
And while being there for someone and helping them get through life’s challenges is a very rewarding occupation, providing care for aging parents can also get very stressful. It can take quite a toll on the caregiver’s physical and mental health, as well as put some significant strain on the relationship.
With that in mind, here are our tips for providing care for aging parents in the best way possible.
Talk About It
The most important piece of advice anyone could give you is never to forget how important it is to communicate with your parents.
As humans, we tend to look at things solely from our own point of view and forget to factor in what others may want. This is particularly detrimental when we’re taking care of someone and forgetting to consult them about everything.
Your parents may be getting older, they may be infirm or face mobility challenges, but they still deserve to have a say in how they live their lives. You can’t just come barging in and telling them how things are going to go.
Remember, they are entitled to make mistakes and wrong choices. Your job is not to force them to do what you think is best. It’s to ensure they live the best life they can, and want.
The way to achieve this is to talk about everything, and I do mean everything. Especially the unpleasant things, like death, funerals, debt, incontinence, etc. It may be uncomfortable, but once it’s all out there, you will be much better for it.
Another very important aspect of your parents’ lives to consider is safety. No matter how much time you spend with them, or even if you live in the same household, you can’t always be there, and there will be things you simply can’t prevent.
In order to avoid any unnecessary worry and anxiety, make it a priority to ensure your home is safe. You will sleep more soundly, knowing you have done all you possibly could to prevent accidents and intrusions, and that there is a system in place to protect them.
Remember that you might also need to protect your parents from themselves. Depending on their condition and state of mind, remove from the home any objects that might bring them into harm’s way.
Don’t Forget About Mental Health
We tend to focus on healing the body as our parents get older, which is only natural. However, we should never forget the importance of mental health and how much it can affect the body as well.
The stress and anxiety of getting older and not getting any healthier can take a significant toll on anyone, so finding ways to combat intrusive thoughts can be of huge help to your parents.
Don’t let them sulk and draw into themselves. Encourage them to socialize, get out of the house as much as they can, and do the things they enjoy.
If need be, you can also encourage them to visit a therapist they can talk to, who will offer an unbiased view of the situation and help them get through it.
It’s Not All About Them
Finally, don’t forget that you, as the caregiver, also need to focus on yourself.
It’s easy to get lost when trying to ensure someone else is well and as happy as can be, but practicing self-care and self-love should always be at the top of your list.
This means that you need to take some time off when you need it and do the things that make you happy. Find an outlet that helps ease the stress and tune your mind out from the everyday.
Make sure you do your best to get enough sleep, and eat as well as you can – these two habits alone can significantly improve your life, thus making you a better caregiver as well.
Remember that there will be times when things go wrong, when you miss an appointment or forget to buy something. You need to learn how to forgive yourself when things like this happen, and move on.
Dwelling on the things you’ve not done as well as you’d hope will not help either you or your parents.
You can find much more information on living a holistic lifestyle in these free magazines and on our YouTube channel.
Sarah Kaminski is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She’s been a freelance writer for over a decade and loves researching health and wellness topics.