When your parents slow down, they need a little extra care and supervision no matter how independent they are. However, assisted living communities aren’t always an option. A private room in a nursing home can cost upwards of $267 per day, and joint rooms aren’t that much cheaper.
In cases where the parent may want to stay at home or may not be able to afford extra care, a child or other family member may find it necessary to step in and become a caregiver themselves. Being a caregiver comes with many responsibilities and can be emotionally trying at times, but spending time with the ones you love while ensuring they have the best possible care in your hands can be rewarding.
How Best to Care for an Elderly Parent
When it’s evident that your parent needs a helping hand, the first thing you should do is assess the extent of their needs.
Look for things such as whether they can still feed and clean themselves effectively, how forgetful they are, when they remember to take their medication, if any, or how they move around. Doing so enables you to see whether you can assist them yourself or entrust them to a professional caregiver.
Once you’ve determined that your parent needs a little extra care from you, you can move forward with a few steps to increase their quality of life as they age.
Buying a simple smart device, such as a tablet, can go a long way to keeping your parent connected with the people they love. If you can, pre-download apps on it and help your parent navigate them. Games can keep them occupied, but social media and video apps can keep them connected with family and friends.
Leave detailed instructions somewhere in the home in case your parent misremembers how something works. Since 43% of senior citizens regularly feel lonely, they’re sure to appreciate the effort and want to learn, even if they’re not good with technology.
Having these instructions and a smart device isn’t the only way to keep your parent from feeling lonely, but it certainly helps that reaching out to someone you love is only a tap away at any time.
When you become a caretaker, some of your parent’s daily routines might be affected. It may mean they can’t take regular trips to the grocery store, as that might be a risk. You may consider having groceries ordered and then picked up or, if need be, take it a step further and look into a grocery delivery service.
Similarly, you may have to make adjustments within the home, too. If a parent is hard of hearing, you may choose to add subtitles to their television so they can follow along without worry. Similarly, you may have to start communicating in more straightforward language to ensure your parents can understand you.
Can they prepare their meals? Would it be more beneficial to enlist the help of a meal delivery service instead of dealing with groceries? If they love to cook, maybe you can utilize a meal preparation service that includes all the ingredients and detailed instructions for simple dishes. The trick to caregiving is to provide as much aid as possible while allowing the loved one as much independence as possible.
If your parent has a specific ailment, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, it’s essential to understand what they’re experiencing, even on a basic level, so you can be better equipped to help them.
By educating yourself and implementing changes to show your parents you somewhat understand what they’re going through, you may strengthen your bond with them — and give them someone to lean on for support if they’re used to being independent.
Though your parent may keep up with everyone online or through phone chats, nothing can replace seeing loved ones face-to-face. If your parent needs care around the clock, maybe you could step out for a day or two and let one of their other children or family members visit and have a sleepover with them. By working together with other family members, you all shoulder one another’s burdens and share the care.
Taking turns visiting and creating schedules will allow your parent to see the people they love more often. Having visits set in stone will also allow you to relax and avoid the dreaded burnout that’s so common with caregiving.
One incredibly crucial part of caregiving that people often overlook is the caregiver’s self-care. Without taking time for yourself, you’re going to burn yourself out and conjure up negative feelings when you inevitably crash.
To keep yourself on track, you should set personal health goals. Remember to eat a healthy amount of good-quality food every day and try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night. If you have a vacation planned, you can look into getting another family member to stay with your parent while you’re gone. When no one else is available, an assisted living center may offer to watch your parent for a few days while you take some time off.
Needing time away from your parents after caring for them doesn’t make you a bad person. It makes you human. You want to provide your parents with the best care you can give them, and you won’t be able to do that unless you have a break to take care of yourself, too. You should always be realistic about the level of support you can give, and remember that asking for help is okay.
Primary Caregivers Are Never Alone
While primary caregivers may live close to or even with the care recipient, they’re not the only person offering support. Distant caregivers might live far away from their parents or loved ones but can provide help from afar — things like scheduling appointments, signing up for meal or television subscriptions, and so on can go a long way toward alleviating the burdens of a primary, local caregiver.
Caregivers are superheroes. It takes a big heart to support your family and yourself, especially when it’s your own parent who might be slowing down and needs the care. Just remember that other caregivers are experiencing the same feelings you are. Seek out support in your community. You’re making a difference.