A Beginner’s Guide To Caring For A Parent
When children are young, many have parents that take good care of them. As parents age, the onus is on the adult children to take care of their parents. However, caregiving can be challenging in families where the parent has always been in charge.
It can even cause burnout or sickness if one sibling carries all the burden and doesn’t have enough support from other family members to care for a frail parent. So, careful planning, which includes making tough decisions, is required.
To offer some helpful suggestions, Senior Partners, Inc. has put together a beginner’s guide to caring for a parent. Through this guide, you will feel confident about looking after a loved one.
Be compassionate: When adult children need to step in to assist parents, they struggle with role reversal. Suddenly, they must act in a parental role to protect a parent with memory loss or lapses in safe judgment. While the situation can be frustrating, it’s essential to remain empathetic, as seniors still have the right to be treated as adults and to have their wishes honored.
Personal care: Sometimes assistance is needed with bathing or toileting if the parent declines physically. It’s a delicate balance for an adult child, as helping a parent undress, toilet, or shower is a privacy issue and can be very uncomfortable for both. Using a personal care agency for in-home health care assistance can be a welcome option.
Hold a family council: When family dynamics permit, gather all of the needs and concerns of your aging parent. Allow everyone to express their ideas and suggestions, including your parents. Divide up the workload. One sibling could be in charge of transportation needs, one managing finances, and another medication. If you don’t have enough help and feel overwhelmed, obtaining outside services for some of these tasks is essential.
Avoid contention: Communicate your love and concern to your dependent without having a heated argument. It’s a vital conversation to have, especially with a parent suffering from memory loss or dementia. In their mind, they are doing fine, and any suggestion of the opposite is offensive and frightening, and you will have a fight on your hands.
Take charge: When your parents can no longer think clearly, it may become necessary to take a parental role. Put things in place that will keep them safe. However, if your parents are still thinking clearly, remember they have the right to remain in charge of their lives and fail in some areas. In both cases, stay in close contact with them and assist when needed.
Advice From The Pros
Take time for self-care: Caring for an aging parent can be time-consuming and often overwhelming, so make time to recharge your energy and meet your own needs. This way, you will have the strength to offer care for others as no one is required to sacrifice all of themselves.
Don’t try to do everything on your own: It’s physically, emotionally, and mentally damaging to carry all of the needs of a loved one on your shoulders. In many cases, It leads to severe illness and, in some cases, death. Losing a caregiver before the person needing the care has died is not uncommon. Allow others to show up for you and help with the areas they can. There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and in today’s environment, it takes a village to care for a declining senior.
Let go of perfectionism: Some days your house won’t be as clean as you’d like as you spent the time cleaning for your parents. Some days you will have to let go of your list of to-do items as your parents had a setback or suffered an emergency. Have self-compassion and patience on this journey. Every day will be different, and your priorities will constantly be changing.
However, when the time arrives that your parents have graduated from this life, you will find that you miss filling their medication box or asking them not to put whipping cream on everything they eat or having them call you to tell you the same story again. Instead of feeling relief that you’re no longer carrying a caregiver’s burden, you might find that it was a sacred honor that you fulfilled your duty and that you miss it in some strange way.
Get over your discomfort: It’s not hard to help a loved one with personal care unless you decide it is. Don’t make it weird. You can do things to help a person keep their dignity while assisting them. Cover them with a towel when exposed, continue to chat with them, and help them feel at ease. Keep your tone of voice kind and your expression neutral as you assist with activities that may be unsettling. Realize that it becomes much easier for both of you after the first time. Allow a professional to come and help and demonstrate easier ways to accomplish your tasks. And if needed, turn over tasks that you honestly don’t wish to do (or your parents don’t want you to do) to a licensed and trained caregiver.
At Senior Partners, Inc., our goal is to exceed your expectations. As the go-to experts in Provo, Utah, for all your in-home senior health care services, you can feel confident that your loved ones will get well looked after with us. We specialize in companionship, homemaking care, senior personal care, respite/ aftercare, and senior care consulting. Visit our website to learn more or contact Senior Partners, Inc. today.