Any way you cut it, caring for an elderly parent is tough. Besides the demands on your own time, you may also feel a sense of loss for the vibrant person you once knew. Aging parents may express feelings of anger at losing their independence and physical abilities.
About 17% of adult children care for aging parents, and most people report emotional distress at taking on this responsibility. But there are a few things you can do to manage the stress and enjoy your parents as much as possible in this late stage of their lives.
1) Include them in the process
If they still have their mental capacity, ask them how they’d like to be cared for. They may not want as much help as you’re ready and willing to give. Remember, losing their autonomy is as difficult for them as it is for you. Ask them specifically what assistance they need and don’t assume they need you 24/7.
2) Have an “end-of-life” plan
Nothing is more difficult than facing your own mortality, except maybe that of your parents. But it’s critical that you know how they’d like to be treated in their final moments. Find out if they have or want a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) mandate and how they’d like their funeral to be handled. When that moment comes, it will be much easier to face knowing that those decisions have already been made.
3) Create a support group
While caring for your aging parent can seem lonely and frustrating, you’re not alone. Siblings, friends, neighbors, and church communities will most likely be willing to shoulder some of the responsibilities. Make a list of helpers, and ask each person to take on one small task so no one person carries the whole burden. Don’t be shy about asking for help.
4) Create a check-in schedule
Routines are healthy for older people. It helps keep their mind and body active, as well as giving them the comfort of knowing what to expect day to day. If you’ve already set expectations about what you’ll be doing then it should be easier to let your parents know when you’ll be doing what.
5) Consider hiring a caregiver
Sometimes the work of caring for elderly parents is just too much for adult children to take on, especially where dementia and loss of mobility are present. If you do need to hire a caregiver, write a clear job description, set a reasonable salary or hourly wage, ask a lot of questions, and check their references. You’ll also want to have them sign an employment contract with their responsibilities clearly outlined.
6) Invest in helpful equipment
Technology has come so far, and there are so many products that can help you manage the job of caring for your elderly parent. A few of the things you can buy are medical alert devices, non-slip mats, toilet seat risers, grab bars for the bathroom, steps for walking in and out of the shower, bed railings, and talking clocks and wristwatches. A quick search on the internet will show you the extensive range of available products.
You can also set up Guardline outdoor motion sensors to let parents know that someone is approaching their home or on their property. Add-on features like flashing strobe lights, gate openers, and sirens help people with failing vision and hearing to be alerted to someone’s presence. They’ll be assured that they won’t be surprised by visitors and will be more likely able to make it to the door if they’re notified ahead of time.
If your parents live in an adjacent house or in-law suite, the sensors can be set up between your dwelling and theirs to let you know that someone is approaching their house or apartment. Additionally, sensors can be set up inside the home to let you or a caregiver know if someone’s gotten out of bed or wandered outside the house (particularly helpful for those with dementia). Guardline can help you keep an eye on who’s coming and going from your parent’s house and also let you know if they’re somewhere they’re not supposed to be.
Have questions about how our products can help you care for your aging parent? Feel free to call us with your questions at (888) 519-0413, or reach out to our American customer support team by going to our Facebook page or by visiting our contact page.
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Until next time, be safe…
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