While the sentiment behind taking care of aging parents comes ultimately from a deep place of love and concern, it's not always that easy to do so; it can quickly add its share of challenges to the mix. Taking care of aging parents can often be very overwhelming at times, not only for you but for them as well. This is especially true if you've never done it before, or if they are different types of aging parents - those that have dementia, Alzheimer's, or any other type of brain disease.
The first thing you need to consider is whether you can provide the necessary services for your aging parents; if you can't do so, they will end up getting less support and may even wind up in a more isolated position, which can create more health issues for both of you. It's important that you find a nursing home that is compassionate and willing to work with your parents, but one that also has the resources to help your senior parent(s) along. Many health issues can stem from isolation and having a skilled team of doctors and nurses on hand can go a long way towards making sure your parent(s) get the best possible care. You'll also want to find a home that offers the type of community that your senior parent would prefer, to ensure he or she feels comfortable.
Caring for aging parents takes time and effort, especially during the early stages. It's important to not get frustrated with the challenges ahead because this may only serve to make them angrier. Instead, acknowledge the challenges, set goals, and create plans to make them easier to accomplish. By doing so, you will be able to reduce the number of frustrations they experience, while giving them a sense of control over their future. Remember that when caring for aging parents, every little step you take will make a difference.
For many parents, being a caregiver comes naturally, since many grown-ups feel older than they actually are. As a caring adult child of an aging parent, it's important that you become familiar with the many signs of aging. This may be the first challenge since many of the early symptoms of aging can't be predicted. However, once you begin to recognize common signs like sagging skin, dry lips, memory loss, and changes in appetite, you'll begin to have a better idea of how to best care for your aging parents. While it's important to remember that all of these changes are normal, do keep in mind that these changes may be accelerated by various factors, including age, medications, health conditions, stress, and heredity.
A lot of older adults face the challenges of caring for aging parents, including isolation. Remaining active in the lives of your parents, whether that's at home, in a nursing facility, or simply at work, gives you a sense of purpose. Additionally, caregivers who remain connected with their loved ones in other forms, such as through social activities and outings, helps reduce isolation. Additionally, connecting caregivers to their own health care providers offers a sense of continuity in caring for your parents. Health care providers are experts on addressing health issues that can affect caregivers, and it provides them with a sense of assurance that their patients will be receiving the best possible care.
Another challenge faced by caregivers of aging parents is depression. It's important to remember that you don't need to be diagnosed with clinical depression to experience low moods. In fact, low moods, or what's known as seasonal affective disorder, can occur at any point throughout the year. In addition, you may not even realize when you're feeling blue. Don't wait until it gets worse and ask yourself if you're feeling depressed. This way, you can determine early on whether you need help caring for your parent or not.
Other challenges to daily tasks include memory loss, sensory integration impairment and increasing gait. For example, caring for elders can require that you keep good records, especially of how your elder accomplishes tasks. Some tasks may become difficult because of sensory integration impairment, which results in decreased vision and a hard time reaching things. Caregivers can train themselves to make use of hand controls to accomplish these tasks. They should also be familiar with common first aid practices, such as pouring a drink for an upset senior.
Dealing with the challenges of caring for aging parents or grandparents doesn't have to take away from your life. By learning to take care of yourself, you can provide the type of self-care that your loved ones need. Learn as many ways as possible to cope with the different issues facing you so you can give your aging parents the level of care they deserve.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and is probably the most prolific eulogy writer (and best) anywhere. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones.