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Seven tips for taking care of your elderly parents

Old age is a difficult stage in life; it is a period of change, most often deterioration, and demands you to adapt accordingly. This period of life proves to be a challenge not only for the senior individual but also for the family members and caregivers.

The elderly in the community deserve kindness, respect, and care, but at the same time, caregivers might feel like they don’t get enough time for themselves. It is a two-way process. If your parents are at such a point in life, you will likely be very familiar with the inevitable changes in elderly care.

On the one hand, caring for your parents is personally rewarding because it feels like paying them off for their years upon years of tireless efforts. But, on the other hand, your stress, worry, and busy routine might pose a problem.

More often than not, the adult children in the home take responsibility for aging parents, while some visit parents who choose to stay in nursing homes. For adult children caring for their elderly parents, it can get even more challenging if they are the ‘sandwich’ generation, a term used to refer to the generation ‘sandwiched’ between elderly parents and young children.

Whenever you feel like taking a break, you can always go for aged care services offered by care communities in your vicinity. Here are a few tips for taking care of your elderly parents.

1. Begin with a clear outline

If you dive right into it without insight into your responsibilities, you will likely be overwhelmed with many tasks. Begin by listing exactly how much help and assistance your elderly parents need during the day. Remember that it is best to help aged people stay independent and active for as long as possible. Therefore, try not to take on tasks they can do independently, albeit with difficulty. To draft the outline, take note of all the tasks you or other people are required to perform to give yourself a clear picture of what seniors need help with and when.

2. Don’t overestimate yourself; think realistically

No one can take complete responsibility for another individual without affecting their physical or mental health. When you outline duties, think realistically about what you can achieve in your capacity. You can always call for help or divide responsibility with other family members.

Taking complete responsibility will only last a while, after which you will burn out. The following signs indicate burnout: you feel irritable all the time, are fatigued, feel numb, experience changes in appetite, and feel like withdrawing from everything.

3. Don’t do it alone

Many people back out from caregiving help because it seems like it would take too much time or effort. However, this one-time investment will bear fruit. It is not easy to find good professional help for your elderly parents, but ultimately, your efforts will save you from much of the burden of caregiving.

You can consider options for enrolling your parents in an adult care program, hiring in-home caregivers, using respite (temporary) care, and asking close friends and family for assistance.

For instance, you can ask family and friends to run errands for you or hire an overnight nurse to look after your senior parents during the night to get rest. You might also share responsibility with your siblings and send your parents off to their place for vacations.

4. Take breaks

Caring for elderly parents can be pretty challenging, and you need breaks to relieve stress or anxiety and rest your body. It is human nature to need breaks from busy routines to maintain productivity. Even if you don’t get free time, take a few minutes to walk in the park or go to some restaurant with your friends. Also, try to take monthly or half-yearly vacations alone or with friends or family.

5. Modify your home environment to make it easy for your parents

To help your elderly parents remain active and independent, one major project you should invest in is home modification. Consider adding grab bars so they can walk easily and do tasks like going to the bathroom themselves.

Similarly, ensure your stairs have railings and your parents’ rooms are on the ground floor. You can introduce bathtub chairs and transfer benches in your bathrooms, provided they are within easy reach. By making things easy for your parents, you’ll reduce the chances of them getting hurt by slipping or falling.

6. Keep a stock of easy-ready meals

Nutrition is one primary concern when it comes to aging. Many seniors are at significant risk of malnutrition. In most cases, it is the lack of access to good food. Many seniors skip meals because preparing one is quite a challenge.

As caregivers, you must keep your house stocked with easy-ready nutrient-rich meals. One way to achieve this end is to use delivery services and join support groups that assist the elderly in daily tasks like grocery shopping.

7. Stay up to date about all healthcare information

To be a good caregiver, ensure you are in the loop with healthcare providers and are well aware of your parent’s health needs. Attend all medical appointments and go to all doctor consultations with your parents.

Also, keep every other family member in the loop and communicate all information. Also, be sure to get information from your family members if they are the ones helping your parents out in their healthcare matters.

Final words

Caring for senior parents is a tremendous challenge, but if done correctly, you can provide good quality care and keep yourself from burnout. Plan realistically, call in as much help as possible, give yourself breaks, modify your home environment, and stay up-to-date about health information. This way, you will be able to do justice to yourself and your elderly parents.

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