How to Survive the Stress of Caring for an Aging Parent

Providing regular care for an aging parent can be very rewarding, however, it can also be both physically and emotionally draining. There can be many reasons why an aging parent needs help, but they’re not always willing to take it. Their independence is something most hold very dear and they don’t want to give it up without a fight.

Unfortunately, there will come a time when a little extra care is needed and many adults with aging parents take it upon themselves to provide that care. You want to have a good relationship with your parents and take care of them in a way they deserve. However, you’ve got your own concerns to attend to such as work and family commitments, which puts you under extra pressure. It is possible to reduce the amount of stress you’ll be feeling and here are some tips to help you.

Understand What Level of Care is Required

The first step is for you to understand what level of care your aging parent needs. You also need to consider that their needs may well change over time. The best way for you to know what type of care they need is to spend time with them. It’s going to take longer than just a few hour visits, but the longer you spend in their company, the better idea you’ll have of their mental and physical health.Do they, for example, have trouble preparing their own food? Are they able to perform light housekeeping tasks? What about personal grooming?

A parent who is mentally aware, can hold a conversation and get themselves around isn’t going to need around the clock care. A caregiver who can come to their home and spend the day or a few hours with them may be all that they need.

As well as assessing their current needs you also need to think about the future. Your parent may only be suffering from mild dementia at the moment, but when it becomes severe specialist dementia care may be required. A parent with Alzheimer’s or dementia will require specialized care. This type of condition required a caregiver with specialized training. One who is able to provide a safe environment and be able to mitigate their challenging behaviors. You can choose to move them to a facility that can provide specialized care or employ an experienced in-home caregiver.

If you need help in deciding the best course of action,medical professionals will be able to help with your decision.

 

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Professional Help

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with your caregiving role or are wondering about other options, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Caring for an aging parent, whether it’s in their own home or your own, can be a huge responsibility. Of course, you feel responsible for your parents care but you also have to be prepared to admit that you might not be up to the job. There are a lot of challenges to overcome when it comes to caring for an aging parent. A professional caregiver will be specially trained in providing elder care and they’ll also have a large network of resources at their disposal. It’s also very likely they will have years of experience dealing with elderly people who need help in their home. When you compare that with your own knowledge and experience you have to admit there is a better option than caring for your parent yourself.

Don’t Forget About Your Own Health

It’s important that you don’t forget about your own health when caring for an aging parent. What use will you be if you fall ill because you’ve been overdoing it? It’s also very likely that you’re going to have your own family to take care of, as well as job responsibilities. You’ve probably already reached middle age yourself, so you’re no spring chicken and the added responsibility of caring for a parent may be too much for you to bear.

Even if you don’t have a family or job responsibilities, you still have to take care of your own health, because being a caregiver can be very stressful, especially if you never take any time off.

Here are a few more tips to help you control the stress of being a caregiver.

  • Use respite and outside care resources– the best way to reduce stress is to take a break while at the same time ensuring your parent is being well cared for.
  • Accept limitations–there’s no such thing as a perfect caregiver so stop beating yourself up when you can’t do something.
  • Let go– accept the fact that there are going to be things you can’t change, for example, your parents’ behavior. What you can change is the way you react to it.
  • Communicate with others – you’ve got a wide network of family and friends who would be only too happy to help so don’t be afraid to reach out to them.
  • Stay active– it’s important to stay active on most days, so go out for a walk when you’ve got a spare ten minutes. Eating healthy will increase your energy levels and may even improve your sleep.
  • Take time off – did you realize that you may be entitled to take time off work to care for relatives? Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year are an option if you’re covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

It is possible for the stress of caring for an elderly parent to be avoided. Roles do reverse as parents age but it’s important to remember that caretaking responsibilities don’t have to fall on your shoulders. Duties can be delegated to other family members, friends, and even professional caregivers. Even if your parent is being cared for in an assisted living facility,you’re the one facilitating that care, so you are still taking care of them. Being able to share the responsibility means you get to enjoy a better relationship with them. f�v�

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