Caring for an elderly parent? Here are 4 ways to reduce the stress.
It’s a sad realization when your parents become old.
One minute, they’re taking care of you, making you feel heard, safe and loved.
The next moment, they’re suddenly relying more (and more) on you to look after them.
Caring for an elderly parent can take a toll on your emotional wellbeing. Yet it’s something we do out of sheer love and adoration.
We don’t want our parents to feel less than cared for – in any way.
We do what we can to look after them – which often includes looking into facilities like McKnight Place, where we know that they can get the best possible care beyond what we can do.
4 ways to reduce the stress if you’re cring for an elderly parent
If presently you are being relied upon to take care of your elderly parents, here are four ways to ensure that you are caring for them, without compromising your own care.
1. Break It Down
First, make a list of all the things that your parent needs help with right now. This can include all the daily activities that you need to assist with as a part of their health and care routines.
Next, make a second list concerning what they will need help with in the future.
- What will happen when they cannot drive?
- Do they live in an area where they can get help if they need it?
- Do they have the means to support themselves financially?
Writing it all down can help you to visualize everything that you will need to do for them – so you are prepared. It can be a good way to feel like you’re pragmatically dealing with “the facts” of things – and thereby getting somewhere.
You might also want to make shopping lists of things you need to buy for your elderly parent. For example, you might need to stock up on cost-effective products that will address adult incontinence and other health conditions that your elderly parents may have. Look into ways to effectively divide the daily household tasks or the overall financial responsibility with your siblings.
In fact, if you have siblings, you should try to make sure everyone is pitching in to help. Keep in mind that research reports that in 90% of families, often one sibling takes on more of the responsibility. Care states that this happens because each sibling is raised with a different kind of relationship. As a result, each sibling has different kinds of expectations for how to care for elderly parents – and what their specific roles might be.
The report states: “The child who felt most loved by the parents or the one who self-identifies as the ‘good’ son or daughter might be more likely to take on the primary caregiver role. The child who took the most browbeating, or who feels like a disappointment, or who feels ignored would be less willing to extend themselves to a needy parent.”
2. Educate Yourself
You need to know about the right senior care facilities and plans that you can get involved with to help care for your parents. Knowledge is not only power. Knowledge means less stress because you’re taking care of things in the best way possible.
- Do you know the local respite facilities?
- Have you set up back-up help?
- Did you research caregiver training requirements that your state needs?
- Are you familiar with how to take care of medical bills and facility bills?
Don’t let your role of caretaker become so huge that your whole life gets taken over and starts to fall apart. You cannot do it all alone. Your emotions need as much care as your parents do.
3. Set Boundaries
Caring for a parent may well be something that you do out of love. But you need to set boundaries so that you don’t resent your parents for caring for them.
It’s normal to feel stressed at times. After all, you’re lovingly worried about your elderly parent’s well being, comfort and health – while also feeling at times like they are a burden. All of these various mixed emotions can be very stressful.
Chances are you will particularly feel overwhelmed and resentful when you are managing everything all by yourself. You need to set boundaries and find a way to say “time out” when you’re overwhelmed.
4. Find Safe People To Talk With
When you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to find safe people to talk with about your uncomfortable feelings.
You need to be able to speak openly – without fear of judgement – in order to release your tensions and manage your emotions and health.
Find someone you feel will be an empathic, good listener: a spouse or a friend, or even a professional.
Don’t bottle up all your emotions. It’s hard enough to care for elderly parents. Don’t add to the stress by keeping your feelings pent up inside of you. Find a way to speak about how you feel – and be validated for how you feel.
Caring for an elderly parent can be stressful.
Be gentle with yourself. It’s challenging to care for an elderly parent.
Don’t pretend it’s not.
Take some time to appreciate all the effort you’re putting in to help your elderly parents.
Also be sure to use this time to lovingly bond with your parents as best as you can.
Get whatever closure you might need – while compassionately keeping in mind your elderly parent’s specific physical and emotional abilities.
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