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Caring for Elderly Parents: Caregiving Tips and Advice for Beginners

More adults are aging in place than ever before. This is because seniors value their independence above certain conveniences that come with everyday help.

Keep this fact in mind while caring for elderly parents. Explore ways to make them feeling more at ease with the concept of having a caregiver.

Here a quick guide to becoming a caregiver for your aging parents.

Communicate

The first step to becoming a caregiver for your parents is to come up with a family plan. You need to know how much support your parents feel comfortable with.

You may hate the idea of your elderly dad mowing the lawn, but it might be his form of morning meditation on the weekends. Expect to compromise some of your expectations to respect the wishes of your parents.

Caring for elderly parents won’t come natural at first, but with time you can develop a rhythm so you’re both speaking the same language without offense. Let your parents lead the way and you create backup plans for any ideas that seem too risque.

You can’t risk the health and safety of your parents just to avoid hurting their feelings. Push back on any ideas that put their lives at risk.

Splitting the Duties

It’s common for just one person to take on the bulk of the responsibility of caring for elderly parents. The proximity of the child or children make them ideal candidates for making sure mom or dad get the help they need.

But if your only reason for being the primary caregiver is control, it’s a good idea to end the behavior before it erupts into a major conflict. Keep in mind that a caregiver is a support team.

There is no “I” in team so you shouldn’t expect to dominate your parents’ activities simply because you think you’re the most responsible. Your siblings have a right to have input into your parents’ care.

Set up a meeting with your siblings if you notice any tension arise about the decisions being made. One sibling might feel burdened with too much responsibility while others feel left out entirely.

As a family, everyone wants to feel included without obligation. It’s a delicate balance that’ll likely take time to develop. One of the benefits of communicating with siblings without parents present is that everyone can vent honestly.

It’s unlikely that anyone will want to admit to feeling too much responsibility for parents with them sitting right there. You can also argue without stressing out your parents knowing that you’ll eventually come to a resolution. 

Any favoritism played by parents is avoided so you can speak fairly to one another. 

Setting Boundaries

As a caregiver, you’ll be asked to do things that go beyond your comfort zone. While some things are reasonable, others compromise what you’re able to lovingly provide. 

For example, you might not feel comfortable skipping your child’s parent-teacher conferences to take your parent to an appointment. Avoid the guilt of having your own life or saying no.

Saying you aren’t available doesn’t mean your parents have to give up on anything they want to do. It might simply be a sign that it’s time to bring in part-time help.

Some parents believe that only family should take care of the family, but it’s not always realistic for parents with heavy demands. Think twice about designating yourself as a primary caregiver if you’ve always got a conflict in place.

That’s also a sign that you might not be the best option for caring for elderly parents. Your lifestyle just might not permit that kind of sacrifice.

Yes, your parents did take care of you when you were helpless and vulnerable but they did it so you could thrive as an adult. Giving up career goals or family time with your children wouldn’t make them feel successful as parents.

Share as many conflicts as you can with siblings first so that you can come up with a solution that won’t require your parents to worry. Keep in mind that life is unpredictable so there will be the occasional time that your parents go without an expected errand. 

It might be helpful to put your boundaries in writing so you don’t appear flaky. If there’s a caregiving team in place, it also helps you respect everyone else’s time and boundaries.

Caring for Elderly Parents with Health Issues

Jeopardizing your parent’s health and safety for their demands for independence should always be a non-negotiable. Yes, parents shouldn’t be made to feel like a burden, but that doesn’t mean they get to do their nightly walk in a neighborhood that’s descended into crime.

Perhaps the most common thing you’ll have to worry about when caring for elderly parents is existing health issues. Medical needs need to be treated by licensed professionals.

Unless you and your siblings have the right training, don’t try to be the primary caregiver when your parents are ill. Let a nurse or health professional lead the way while you provide support. 

The same is true if they’ve had a recent injury but are expected to recover soon. They’ll need real physical therapy and occupational therapy to get back on track.

In their old age, an injury is a much bigger deal that can lead to serious consequences if left in the wrong hands. If a medication makes them woozy, let them visit the doctor to update their prescriptions.

Don’t be persuaded to allow your parents to skip out on the doctor’s order simply because they don’t like the decision. 

Finding the Time

It’s funny how time expands when you need it to. You might not have a clue how to fit being a caregiver into your schedule now.

But honestly, most people waste so much time on things like social media or floating from task to task that they don’t realize their flexibility. For more information and tips, visit our blog for updates. 

 

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