Aging Parents: 9 Things to Remember When Caring for the Elderly

There are more than forty million people in the United States caring for the elderly and others who can’t do for themselves. They sacrifice their time and energy to help their loved ones perform basic daily activities and get to their medical appointments.  

But, although they are giving selflessly, it’s still very difficult to manage your mental health and the needs of a loved one. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and let yourself go. 

Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to avoid burnout and care for your aging parents. Read on to learn more.

1. Many Elderly are Veterans with Special Needs

Today’s elderly population has veterans of several different wars. These people need a little bit more help than others. You can learn more about veteran care and the options that are available here.

2. Know the Expectations When it Comes to Surgeries

When you are caring for someone who is going in for surgery, you will need to take special precautions about things like what they can eat and drink. You will also need to make sure that they get a good amount of sleep and are well rested for the day’s operation.

3. It’s Normal to Experience Guilt

When you care for someone else day in and day out, it’s hard to look out for yourself at the same time. You may begin to feel guilty if you take time for yourself. 

You may not want to leave your parent alone so you avoid traveling or going to visit other family members. You may also put off dating or doing fun things with other family members on the weekend in order to care for your parents.

But it’s important to remember that this guilt is normal to experience and that it’s important for you to continue to live your life. 

4. Nurture Your Support System

If you are nursing someone who is in the final years of their life, then it’s important that you have a solid support system in place to help you. The last thing you want is to attend their funeral and feel completely alone.

Take some time to hang out with your friends and reach back out to the people who have been there for you in life. 

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

Setting boundaries with your parents is the key to caring for them long term. If you let them walk all over you, then you will eventually become fed up with being a caregiver.

Learn early how to say no to your parents and mean it. Set your limits and don’t tolerate the guilt that follows. Otherwise, you will deplete yourself and not be able to help them at all. 

6. Reframe the Situation in Your Head

For years, your parents took care of you and fulfilled your needs. Now, it’s your turn to do the same for them.

It can be difficult to reframe the family dynamic in your mind, but it’s important that you come to terms with the situation. Otherwise, you might begin to feel overwhelmed in your new role and have a difficult time saying no.

7. Take Breaks Often

When you are caring for another living person’s every need, it’s exhausting work. You will need to take breaks often in order to be at your best.

At times, that may mean putting your parents up in a place that offers respite care. Or, you could reach out to a friend or family member who may be able to stay with your parents for a short while. 

You need this time to recharge your batteries and distance yourself from the situation. Otherwise, you might become resentful. 

If your parents try to guilt trip you about the fact that you are taking some time for yourself, you can let them know that you love them and want to be fully present with them when you get back. Express to them how hard you are working to handle things well and tell them what your needs are.

8. Be Cautious When Debating to Leave Work

One of the decisions you will have to make when you care for your parents and it becomes full-time, is when will you leave your job?

While you may only be considering the short term impact of leaving your job, you should also be careful about losing your career progression and your job skills becoming less sharp. 

Re-entering the workforce isn’t always a smooth process. Be prepared for the job hunt process if you decide to become a full-time caregiver.

9. Have Conversations With Your Parents While You Can

When your parents are aging quickly, it’s difficult to talk to them about certain things like leaving their house, quitting driving, and moving into a place where they can get the help they need.

Each of these conversations has a thousand different factors involved and will be a major emotional stressor on your parents. In order to minimize the effect of these conversations, you should have them as early on as possible.

Let your parents get familiar with the idea of leaving their house someday and moving into another facility long before it becomes time to move them. 

More Health Advice for Caring for the Elderly

Caring for the elderly is a selfless and caring way to spend your time.

With the right conversations and mindset, you can have a successful and fulfilling experience as a caregiver. It’s all about educating yourself and making the right decisions along the way.

You’re not alone in your journey. Check out more of our health advice here.