Taking Care of Your Aging Parents Without Forgetting to Take Care of Yourself
Your parents took care of you when you were growing up and many of us feel that duty of care to return the love and attention by making sure that our aging parents are looked after in their old age.
This role reversal is never easy to contend with and there are often emotional, physical and mental challenges to overcome and contend with as part of the process.
All of this can lead to a strain on your own health and wellbeing, so you need to find a balance and not forget to take care of yourself too.
How To Care For Your Aging Parents
Dealing with role-reversal
We all have a different relationship with our parents in some way or another and whilst some mothers and daughters seem to be inseparable even when everyone is well into adulthood, others maybe lack the sort of intimacy or bonding that they hoped would be there.
Whatever your relationship with your parents has been up to this point, if your aging parents need caring for and tough decisions need to be made, it is not easy dealing with this role reversal.
A change in the relationship emphasis is something you need to anticipate and prepare for, regardless of how close or distant you may have been over the years, there is still that bond of love that is compelling you to do what you can to help your aging parents cope with old age.
One of the most difficult issues is boundaries. Visiting too often can sometimes be just as much of a problem as being told that you don’t visit often enough. These sort of problems are commonplace in a role-reversal situation and it can be physically and emotionally draining trying to find the right caregiving balance that suits everyone.
Not easy to witness
Whilst the primary focus from a care perspective is always going to be on the aging parents who need help adjusting to a new set of needs and circumstances, it is sometimes forgotten just how distressing it can be seeing your parents like this.
Having had a lifetime of watching your parents make decisions that affected you as children, you may now have reached the point where their ability to make important decisions for themselves has become impaired and therefore you need to step into the role of parenting your aging parents.
It is never easy to witness your aging parents falling into this period of dependency but the clear goal that you should have in mind is to always try and make decisions that display a total respect for their desires, whilst balancing that with a realistic sense of perspective about what is practical and achievable in the circumstances.
One of the key factors when organising and arranging help for your aging parents is to consider their home safety.
If their current desire is to remain in their own home for as long as possible, you should try to arrange for a safety evaluation to see what safety measures might need to put in place to protect your aging parents, such as grab rails in the bathroom, shower chairs and good lighting to avoid trips and falls.
You might also want to use a resource like Rx Outreach discount online medication to get the medical supplies they might need at a competitive price.
Take care of yourself
Caregiving can be extremely rewarding and is sometimes a real opportunity to restore or enhance that close bond that you may have with a loved one, but it also a situation which can take a high physical and emotional toll on you.
You will not be able to provide the love and attention that your parents need if you neglect to look after yourself and ensure that you take the time to unwind and recharge the batteries on a regular basis.
You should be aware that people who experience caregiver stress can become vulnerable to changes in their own health and typical symptoms can include depression and social isolation, amongst other problems that need to be avoided by taking care of yourself as well as your parents.
In order to manage your health effectively, always consider offers of help and join support groups so that you can connect with people in a similar situation to yourself. This often works well for developing problem-solving strategies between group members and it is also a good opportunity to develop some meaningful friendships.
Take the time to go for a walk or sit down with a book if that is what you like to do, but however you like to relax and unwind, make sure you set aside time in your schedule to this on a regular basis.
Taking care of your parents is never going to be easy, but as long as you don’t forget to take care of yourself too, there is often a way to find a good balance that works.
GUEST BLOGGER: Kimberly Bacon works as a carer at an assisted living facility in New Jersey. A rewarding job it can also be heartbreaking to see much-loved patients deteriorate. During her free time Kim writes on the topic of aging parents and elder care offering some words of wisdom and support to families not just in the US but around the world thanks to an online audience.