The challenges that come with moving a parent into your home are numerous and diverse. Usually, seniors are happy to stay in their homes, but when it comes to assisted living, when they have to move in with you, you may have to modify your home to accommodate them. And it’s important to give them the right care, while also recognising the other challenges that come with living with an elderly parent. It’s taxing for them and for yourself. The last time I shared a post on this I received loads of messages so wanted to share a few more things that you should consider.
How Much Care Is Needed?
The first step is to assess how much care they really need. Of course, this can help with regards to the appropriate components like care funding to ensure they get the level of financial and professional support, but you must be aware of the levels of responsibility you can feasibly take on. If you take on too much responsibility, you could become overwhelmed quickly, and this can have a variety of negative impacts. The best place to begin is to create a list of tasks so you get a good idea of the type of care they need. It also gives you a clearer picture of how much help they will need on a daily basis during the nights, and over the course of a month. To do this properly, you may need to spend some time observing and making a note of every time your elderly parent needs help with specific tasks.
Getting the Relevant Help You Need
There is no shame in getting help. You need to recognise that you cannot do it all. If you want to provide the best care for your parents, you need to find the best services. For example, you may want to hire a caregiver that can help around the house, or finding the best ways to make life easier for yourself, for example, ordering your shopping online. You could enrol your parents in an adult daycare program, this will allow them the opportunities to get out for you to rest. You should also think about sharing the loads. This could mean asking friends or other members of the family to run errands for you or help with minimal housekeeping tasks. Because there will be times when you need a break.
How to Share the Load Effectively
The most important thing to remember as a carer is learning to say “I need help.” You can always ask a sibling or a relative to help with the care side of things for a day so you can rest and recuperate, but each caring environment is different. And nobody will know that you need help if you do not ask for it. It is important to recognise when you are experiencing the signs of burnout. If you do not ask for help, you will not get it. You must recognise when things are becoming too much. Often, people find themselves in over their heads quickly, because they think that it’s better for them to push through and carry on because that is supposedly best for everyone. But you have to recognise your own stress triggers.
Do Not Sacrifice Everything
The big problem that we all have is when we feel we’ve sacrificed so much of our lives for our parents. It is important to be realistic about the help you can provide, but also so you must realise that it shouldn’t be to the detriment of everything else in your life. You may be of the notion that your parents have made many sacrifices for you, so now it is your turn to return the favour, but it’s about making sure that you do not damage your mental health in the process.
The Feelings of Guilt
Looking after older relatives comes with many conflicting feelings, not least guilt. But you have to understand that if you don’t look after yourself first, you won’t be able to care for anybody. And you won’t be able to care for yourself. For better or worse, you need extra support. If you know there are tasks out of your abilities because you have children of your own, full-time jobs, and have many of the struggles that come with modern life, do not feel ashamed that you have to get extra support. If you are able to provide some form of support to your parents, you need to realise that there will be things you feel guilty about.
You might think that you should be able to do more, but this is where part of the process is learning how to be smart with your choices. If you can provide support in different ways, that provides a comprehensive level of care, you should do it. It’s to do with that cliche that when the breathing apparatus comes down in an aeroplane, that you put the mask on yourself first because you can help others. It’s a very similar thing that you need to do, but you have to go about it in a different way. You have to prioritise self-care.
Think About the Simple Solutions
In life, our needs are sometimes complex, but they can be devilishly simple as well. As we realise the various amounts of physical, mental, and emotional challenges that come with looking after an ageing parent in our home, we’ve got to find quick solutions. At the same time, we can’t paper over the cracks but we need to realise that sometimes we can overcomplicate things. If there is a problem with regard to finances, can you get additional financial support? Have you even looked for it in the first place? There are many simple options out there, but it’s about having that proactive mindset to seek them out. It’s not always easy, especially if we are deep into the caring regime that we feel like we are wading through life on autopilot. The same goes if you are feeling under the weather, are you actually noting yourself in the right way? There’s a lot to be said for having the right diet and exercise regime to rejuvenate yourself.
It shouldn’t come from a place of duty, but it should be about the fact that you care for your parents. But you’ve also got to recognise that it can feel like an arduous task on occasion. Don’t feel guilty about this, but recognise that there is a mixture of emotions that come with this important time.
This is a collaborative post