Aging is undoubtedly a burdensome event, and as we witness our parents age, we often see the roles begin to reverse. They looked after us when we were young and vulnerable, and it is now our time to finally return the love, kindness, and care they provided in our time of need.
In some cases, the transition may be demanding and difficult, especially for some elderly parents who might have gotten stubborn with old age. The increased dependency on their loved ones might be challenging as some parents may fear losing their independence and autonomy. Moreover, some aging parents may feel guilty for needing assistance and fear becoming a source of stress or inconvenience.
Nevertheless, taking care of elderly parents brings families together. It allows you to return their love and support and strengthens the bond you have with your parents.
Nine helpful tips to look after your aging parents
In this article, we will look at nine tips to help you care for your aging parents. These tips will enable you or anyone you know who needs to take on the role of a caregiver to step up and provide love and care while negating any emotional burden associated with it.
- Plan for Future Care and Finances:
Consider discussing a plan and future care preferences, including living arrangements and a long-term care plan. Explore legal matters to overcome any financial burden associated with caregiving for your parents, such as compensation funds. These funds can provide substantial financial support to those affected by devastating diseases.
According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 3000 cases of mesothelioma are registered each year in the United States. These victims are mostly older individuals, probably owing to the fact that the disease is diagnosed years after asbestos exposure. So, if your parents have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to receive mesothelioma compensation by filing a lawsuit against the responsible parties or through the US Department of Veteran Affairs if any of your parents served in the Army or Navy.
Even if they are quite well, you might need to assist them in managing finances, bills, and medical expenses. Hence, consider discussing the possibility of managing their finances for them.
- Foster Social Connections
Your parents might feel lonely now that they have retired. This would especially be the case for a single parent. You can help combat feelings of loneliness by encouraging social interactions and gatherings. Arrange visits from friends and family now and then in order to maintain a healthy social life. Encourage community activities to increase their social circle.
Aside from that, include your parents in your regular family activities such as birthdays, Christmas, and other holidays.
- Prioritize their Safety!
Another way to make your parents feel comfortable at home is to ensure safety at your home if they have to live with you or often come to visit. Conduct a thorough safety assessment at your home to prevent any accidents. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 36 million falls are reported among senior citizens each year. In order to prevent this and make your home safe, you can:
- Install handrails
- Remove tripping hazards.
- Install non-slip mats in bathrooms.
- Keep rooms well-lit.
- Attend to Mental Health
As mentioned earlier, some parents find it frustrating to lose their independence, and this might lead to feelings of hopelessness. You need to recognize and understand that their needs will evolve. Keeping their mental health in mind, be flexible and design an environment where your parents can feel relaxed and comforted.
Keep having regular “therapeutic” sessions with your parents in order for them to feel less burdened. However, some parents are not willing to talk as they might not feel as comfortable being vulnerable to their children. In this case, consider inviting a close relative or someone they trust so that they can share and communicate how they feel. This would not only make them feel mentally relaxed, but it would also prevent feelings of depression, anxiety, or mood swings.
- Attend to their Medical Needs
As parents age, they might need to take certain medications prescribed by their physicians to prevent illnesses or treat existing ones. Develop a medication management system that would ensure they are taking their medications correctly and on time.
Consider making a reminder list for regular doctor appointments and checkups so they don’t miss any while also ensuring transportation to and from the doctor’s clinic is readily available.
Schedule In-home consultations or consider hiring a nurse for your parents if they need assistance to perform daily basic tasks. This would not only ensure that they are being checked up on constantly, but it would also give you peace of mind and some time for yourself. Professional caregivers can help in performing basic needs such as:
- Join a Support Group
Connect with online support groups or join a class for caregivers in order to stay up-to-date and be able to share your experiences while being able to learn from people in similar situations. This would not only ensure that you are updated on advancements in elder care and resources, but you would also be able to practice empathy and provide invaluable support to people going through the same process.
- Focus on Yourself
Now that you’ve earned your caregiver badge do not forget to care for yourself during the process. Take care of your well-being by indulging in hobbies and other favorite activities in order to avoid burnout and other stress-related problems such as anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep.
- Delegate Responsibilities
Do not hesitate to reach out to other family members and friends. Even if it is for smaller tasks such as driving to the doctor’s clinic or taking your parents to the park for their daily exercise, contact your siblings or other family members for aid.
- Show Unconditional Love
In the end, shower them with endless love, respect, and gratitude so they don’t consider themselves a burden but rather feel like an integral part of your life. Let them know that you acknowledge the invaluable role they played in shaping your future.
While you’re on the journey of taking over from your parents and giving them the love and care they need, you need to keep these tips in mind in order to provide support and contribute to creating a nurturing environment that strengthens your bond with them. Although this transformative phase can be challenging, you must keep in mind and reciprocate the love, kindness, and support they selflessly offered in your early years.