By Charlie Fletcher
As your parents age, they may need some help navigating daily life. This can take various forms. In some instances the help your aging parents need could be minimal, involving assistance with practical aspects such as housework. On the other hand, they may need significant financial or medical help.
If you have the time and resources available, you may decide that you want to play a key role in supporting your parents. This is at once both a loving gesture and a significant responsibility.
It’s important to understand that being a caregiver to your parents is not necessarily easy. Achieving a balance between your parent’s care and your lifestyle can certainly be challenging.
So, let’s take a closer look at providing for your aging parents while also keeping your own needs a priority in your life.
Utilize Community Resources
It’s natural to feel that you should take on the responsibility of caring for your aging parents. After all, this can be an expression of your love and respect for them. Nevertheless, it’s important not to make the mistake of believing that you must take this significant duty entirely on your shoulders. There can be negative consequences for everyone involved if you don’t share the responsibilities.
Therefore, you should consider what community resources are available that can help lighten the load. Often, your local public health department will be able to provide guidance on any medical care tools they can offer.
This might include access to traveling nurses, mobility assessors, or even live-in care providers where appropriate. They may also be able to direct you to community support groups and financial assistance providers.
It’s also worth reviewing local and national programs that can help provide for your aging parents. Some national and local government organizations provide funding, advice, and information to carers in general.
Some charities and initiatives may focus on your area of the world, certain medical conditions, and even the industry your parents worked in. If your parent is a military veteran, organizations like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the Royal British Legion offer a range of resources.
Your parents are an important part of your life. Nevertheless, you need to recognize that caring for them can be stressful and put pressure on your mental wellness. For this arrangement to be sustainable, you need to commit to practicing self-care.
One important tool here is simply taking time for yourself. Allocating regular mental health days to perform restorative practices gives you that chance to recharge in intentional and impactful ways.
Planning these days ahead of time helps to make sure you get the most benefit from them. They may involve creative activities, getting some exercise outdoors, or spending quality time with friends. The key, though, is to fully disconnect from your care responsibilities.
Another important form of self-care is identifying relevant support. Many communities have support groups specifically for adult carers of seniors. This helps you not only to share challenges and solutions but connect with people that understand the emotional components of your life as a carer. You may also find it helpful to seek a therapist that specializes in supporting the mental health of carers.
You clearly love your parents and providing for them can be an enriching experience in bringing you closer together. That said, this closeness may occasionally be overwhelming for you both.
You may occasionally find your responsibilities stifling. They might also feel the necessity for care smothers their independence. Therefore, it is vital to set mutual boundaries.
This can include practical boundaries. Provide clarity on when you’ll be available to perform tasks on their behalf. If you live in separate homes, work with your parents to create procedures such as calling ahead before a visit instead of arriving unannounced.
There are also likely to be personal boundaries you need to set. There may be aspects of their lives they wish to keep private or attend to personally to maintain their dignity.
Similarly, you may find some actions that are beyond your comfort level. It’s vital to talk about these aspects regularly so everyone involved can be clear on what lines shouldn’t be crossed.
Frequently Review the Surroundings
The environment your parents are living in is likely to impact their quality of life. It’s also important to understand that their needs will change over time. One of the important elements of caring for aging parents is to work with them in regularly reviewing their living arrangements so any changes can be made in a timely and practical manner.
Primarily, this should include assessing elements of safety. Make certain they’re still able to move around all areas of the home with relative ease. If they experience visual or mobility challenges, ensure that rugs or other items on and close to the floor don’t present trip hazards. Consider how well they can get into and out of baths or showers, this should still be reviewed if they already have handrails.
It may be the case that you both decide that your parent’s current environment isn’t right for them. One option is to have them move in with you, but you have to be mindful that your environment is appropriate for them. Alternatively, you can help your parents move nearer to you, which brings them closer proximity to the care they need. There are various considerations in making this situation work, too.
Take the time to assess whether they’ll still be able to have an active social life in a new home. Will they have easy access to medical services? In some instances, finding senior living communities near you might provide a practical solution.
Caring for your aging parents while navigating your own needs is a challenging process. It’s important to utilize community resources wherever possible and keep self-care methods a priority in your life. It’s also in the best interests of both you and your parents to set clear boundaries surrounding the care you provide.
Remember that their needs will change over time, so it’s wise to regularly assess their living environment and make changes where appropriate. With some planning and communication, providing for your parents can be a positive experience for everyone involved.
Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth. When not writing she is a part time wedding planner and spending time with her nephews.
Last Updated on March 27, 2023 by Editorial Staff