Eldercare can be very emotional, and it’s important to feel confident you’re getting it right. If you’re caring for an elderly parent, it can be very draining, stressful and upsetting. With some simple tips, you can be sure you’re offering your parent the best care you can, without making things harder on you.
- When you’re a carer, it can be easy to get run down and tired. Remember, to take care of anyone else, you need to take care of yourself too. Give yourself an occasional break and put your own health first. Eat healthily, try and maintain your exercise routine and be sure to get enough sleep. If you’re in good health, you’ll be a better help to your elderly parents.
- Look into the legal requirements in case you need to step in to take charge of your parent’s affairs. Do you have access to their bank account to keep an eye on their outgoings? Scams targeting elders are becoming more common, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the accounts to make sure they haven’t been hit. Are you legally able to make medical decisions for them?
- Ask for help. It’s unfair to expect you to take on all the care. Could a sibling take on some of the care responsibility? Is there another family member who could help with small things like dropping in the occasional meal or helping with laundry? Do your parents have neighbors that they like and trust? Ask them to call you in case of emergency or ask them to look in if you’re away.
- Consider assisted living. An assisted living facility, like Rocky Mountain Assisted Living, allows your parent to maintain some sense of independence while having staff on hand to help them. Your parents won’t feel like they’re in a home, but you can rest easy knowing they’re in capable hands with staff who will care for them with dignity and respect.
- Learn some basic first aid skills. Whether you take a first aid course or learn some simple techniques online, you can learn some very useful things to look after your loved ones. Learn how to recognize the symptoms of heart attacks and strokes. Some basic first aid like dealing with burns and minor injuries from falls would be very useful, as would knowing how to safely put somebody into the recovery position. Completing a first aid course will be a useful life skill, especially if you have children too. It could even be useful at work.
- Caring is very hard work. If you’re caring for a parent, remember it’s completely normal to feel stressed, frustrated or just bored at times. Let go of feeling guilty about it, and remember it’s fine. Instead of worrying about it, find some ways to alleviate the feelings of stress. Take time for yourself, or find another carer you can share your worries with. Ask another family member to take over occasionally, or take up a relaxing hobby, like yoga or swimming. Guilt won’t help anybody, so let it go.
- Does your area offer any benefits for carers? If you’ve had to reduce your working hours or leave your job entirely to care for an elderly parent, you may be entitled to some benefits. Check what you’re entitled to. See if your local theatre offers free tickets for carers so you and your parents can enjoy a budget-friendly night out together, to get everyone out of the house.
- Find somebody to talk to. See if there’s a local or online carer’s group that you could join. Having somebody to talk to that understands the challenges and frustrations of being a carer. The support network can really help you feel better and relieve some of the stress associated with caring for a parent.
- Have some sympathy for your parents. Losing independence can be very upsetting and finding themselves having to be cared for by a child may be causing them stress and upset. Try and be patient if they are sometimes angry or distressed. They will need time to adjust to their new life too. Try and talk to them about it, so you can both offload your worries.
- Try and help your parents to feel like they’re maintaining some independence. Give them some control of their own lives. Could they be the ones who make the decisions about their medical care? Even something simple like asking them to make meal plans for the week can help them to feel like they have some control.