As aging parents advance into their elder years, adult children often take on the responsibility of providing and coordinating caregiving services. Ensuring an elder parent’s needs are met, while prioritizing their well-being amid challenging circumstances can be quite noble but can also come at a considerable emotional cost. These issues can include issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, resistance to care, or just complications that are the result of the aging process.
While it is important to care for your elder parent, caregivers should absolutely prioritize their own care needs as well. Remember, you are no good to your parents if you are suffering or too overwhelmed to make good decisions.
Let us share five important caregiving considerations with you today.
Providing assistance for an elder parent is a serious endeavor: getting them dressed, bathed, preparing meals, cleaning, managing medications, transportation, handling legal and financial matters, and the list goes on. This effort takes its toll, especially when elderly parents require extra attention due to illness or diminished cognitive functions. This is just one of the reasons why support is critical. Seeking support from family, friends or caregiving groups composed of people who are going through the same issues, are all good examples of self-care options.
2. Caregiver Needs.
Caregiving can be exhausting, and exhaustion can lead to bursts of anger, bouts of frustration and lingering resentments. It’s important for caregivers to take care of themselves and meet their own needs. Sleep, exercise and a healthy diet are all that more important during this period. But so are spousal and social relationship needs. It’s recommended that caregivers seek help from trusted confidants or professional counselors when they’re not able to keep up with what they need to do for themselves to be happy and healthy.
Knowledge is power, even in elder parent caregiving. Learn as much as you can about an elder parent’s illness, injury or health status from books, surfing the internet, and through contact with others who may have experience and coping tips. Don’t wait to reach out to your parent’s doctors to discuss conditions, assistance, and support options with them as well.
Guilt is one of the most pernicious emotions in the caregiving process. Unfortunately, it can lead to depression. Caregivers should accept that there’s no such thing as perfect, and that it is alright to get angry, annoyed and frustrated sometimes. Let yourself off the hook and find yourself the support you need.
In caregiving situations, it can be difficult for the caregiver to say “no.” But no is indeed a complete sentence when it needs to be. Caregiving is ultimately a relationship, and every relationship benefits from healthy, appropriate boundaries.
Does this article raise more questions than it answers for you? Do not wait to ask us your questions on this or any elder law focused issue. We are here to support you.