There comes a time in everyone’s life when their caretakers need a little care themselves. Caring for an aging parent isn’t easy. From the emotional toll to the physical work, senior care is a difficult job. But despite its challenges, many people do it in order to provide their parents with comfort and support in their later years.
To make the process a little easier, read this helpful guide on how to take care of your aging parents.
Make Your Home More Accessible
If you’re caring for a parent at home, you may need to make some changes in terms of safety. Although everyone’s mobility is going to be different, many seniors struggle to perform common household tasks. Minor dangers in the home can also be exacerbated by an elderly person’s mental and physical condition.
Consider some of these precautions when preparing to move a parent into your home:
- Place non-skid runners on steps
- Install ramps and stairlifts for wheelchair access
- Incorporate non-slip bath mats and stability handles in the shower
- Clean up clutter to reduce risk of falling
The Main Takeaway: A safe, accessible home is crucial if you plan on taking in an aging parent.
Familiarize Yourself with Their Needs
If your elderly parent struggles to remember things, you’ll need to help them keep track of their routine. To that end, you might need to get used to some of the habits below:
- Learn about their medications – Whether they take a simple multivitamin, or something more complicated—like blood pressure or essential tremor medication—you’ll want to know the ins and outs of what they’re taking. Picking up prescriptions, administering doses, and monitoring side effects are all important facets of caring for the elderly.
- Understand their diet – Many seniors have specific dietary needs. To ensure your parent is getting the proper nourishment they need, have a discussion with them (or their doctor) about the kinds of food they should be eating. This is especially important if you’re cooking meals for them yourself—or if dietary supplements are needed to fill nutritional gaps.
- Have the proper equipment – From oxygen tanks to IVs, elderly care requires a lot of tools. Although your parent may or may not require any medical equipment, it’s important to consult their doctor about the best way to prepare your home for their arrival.
The Main Takeaway: Your parents probably have different needs than they used to. Understand what essentials you’ll need prior to accepting the role as a caretaker.
Find Balance in Your Schedule
It’s impossible to care for someone if you’re not taking care of yourself. While elderly care can be a full-time job, you’ll need to find a balance in your schedule to prevent burnout. Not only is it important to have time to yourself, but your parent needs their own life as well.
To prioritize your mental health (and your parent’s), consider some of these ideas:
- Hire an in-home nurse – There’s only so much you can do if you’re not a medical professional. For serious healthcare concerns, don’t be afraid to hire an in-home nurse for assistance. This will ensure your parent is receiving the best treatment, and also give you a much-needed break.
- Let your parent socialize – Whether you choose daytime elderly care or get them involved in some sort of club, they’ll appreciate the chance to socialize with people outside of the house. A healthy separation between home life and social life will be necessary for both parties.
- Discuss other options – If caring for your aging parent full-time is too much to handle, have an open conversation with them about other options. Assisted living facilities—or even moving them to a separate home close by—are some possibilities if you’re financially sound. Remember that you should both have a say in this process, and finding the best solution may take some time.
The Main Takeaway: Being a caretaker is a demanding job. Make sure you have the bandwidth to manage these newfound duties (or explore other options).
It Takes Getting Used To!
If you’re feeling nervous about caring for an aging parent—you’re not alone. Many people struggle with this jarring transition. Just remember that your hard work is appreciated, and nothing can beat support that comes from the heart.
You can’t make life perfect for your elderly parents, but being with them during this transition is you fulfilling the cycle of life through love. We wish you and your parents the best!