When we’re children, our parents can often seem invincible and larger than life. As we grow, this relationship changes and takes on its twists and turns, and you’ll end up seeing your parents in many different lights. However, there’s very little that can prepare you for your parents’ aging, and it can often be a tough reality to adjust to.
Many times, parents will ask for help or care as they age, and in many cases, this puts the pressure of taking care of them on their adult children, whether they’re ready for that responsibility or not. It’s undoubtedly a complex subject to talk about, but the more you can prepare for the possibility of taking care of your parents, the better the entire situation will end up.
Maybe you’re not ready to have that talk with your folks yet, or perhaps you’re looking for a bit of guidance as your parents are transitioning into this period of their life. Whatever your case may be, we put together these tips to help you! We rounded up a few of our best pieces of advice, so whether you’re becoming a primary caregiver or helping your parents into assisted living, you can feel a little bit more prepared.
Talk To Your Parents
No matter what your situation is, the first step should always be to talk with your loved one. Before you make any decisions about care going forward, you need to consider everybody’s needs and opinions. Primarily, you should sort out the level of care your parents need and all the different available resources.
For instance, if your parents are firmly against senior living communities like nursing homes, you need to then assess how they can get the care they need while still respecting their wishes. Whatever decision you all come to, make sure it is going to be healthy for everyone.
Check-In With Yourself
Often, during this process, you can feel as though you need to make certain sacrifices to best help your parents. Too often, it can feel like you are “giving up your life” to care for your elderly parents, which can quickly lead to resentment. To avoid all of this, you should try to remember that your mental and physical health is just as important as your parents’.
We understand wanting to be there for your family members, but if it comes at the sacrifice of your own wellbeing, it won’t truly be helpful. There is no shame in making time and space for yourself when you need it and prioritizing your health when you need to. Striking a balance between caring for your parents and yourself is incredibly important.
If the process has been particularly tough on you, there are a few steps you can take. Many people have found help in caregiving support groups, as they can talk about their issues with people who understand their situation. These groups can be virtual or in person, but having someone who can empathize and understand your mindset may help you manage the stresses that can come up during caregiving.
Similarly, if you can provide the majority of care for your parents’ needs but still just need a break now and again, you may want to consider respite care options. Respite care is designed to aid primary caregivers by providing caregiving services for a certain amount of time. If you need any time off, from one afternoon to a few weeks, respite care will ensure that your parents are fully taken care of while you’re able to take care of yourself.
Prioritize and Delegate
Naturally, when it comes to caring for aging parents, their health issues will likely be a prominent part of their care services. For you, this means you need to figure out what aspects of your parents’ lives are most important and how to make sure these needs are taken care of. By prioritizing the necessities of your parents’ lives, you make it much easier to handle the more minor details in the long term.
Assess what you are able to take on and what will need to come from another source. You can probably take care of your loved one’s food and hygiene habits pretty well, but most people aren’t equipped to provide health care. Even if you have experience as a family caregiver, there is no shame in getting help from medical professionals or institutions.
For example, if your parents require medical assistance regularly, your first step should determine the best place for them to live. This could end up with home care services, retirement communities, or simply your home, depending on the level of care your parents need. Just by determining that factor, you can give your parents the best possible care right from the beginning.
Be Flexible and Show Your Love
There is no tried and true method for elderly care, and everybody’s situation will be different. You might plan meticulously, set up the most complete care plan possible, and still have complications arise. That’s ok!
Arguably, the most critical aspect of elderly care is adapting to new situations and rolling with them as best you can. Just remember that there is only so much in this situation you can control, and stressing over these challenges won’t do much to fix them. Instead of trying to make everything work based on a plan, be willing to change the plan as you go, and give yourself breathing room for mistakes.
For you and your parents, their aging process can be challenging to accept and reckon with. At the same time, the time spent with your parents can also be incredibly rewarding and can help you remain close to your family. To help manage these difficult times and emotions, make sure you still remind your parents that you love them deeply. Even just daily conversations can be a gift for elderly parents who are looking for connection.
Armed with some new information, we hope this can help answer some of your questions about caring for your parents. Though we know this isn’t an exhaustive list, it can be an excellent starting place.
We’re all about helping people get the care and support they need, which is why we created the EATbar, a simple to eat, easy source of calories for everyone. If your parents have difficulty with food, try some of our melt-in-your-mouth bars today. You can also check out our blog for more food and family content!