Many of us go through a stage in our lives when we’re raising children at the same time as caring for our parents. If you find yourself in a situation where your role has changed from child to carer, here are some tips to help you look after elderly relatives.
Analyzing your parents’ needs
Every family is unique, and people have very different needs and requirements as they get older. In many cases, aging parents will need a hand around the house and help with everyday tasks, such as cleaning, cooking and shopping for groceries and supplies. In other cases, people may need more intensive care, specialist medical help or assistance with personal hygiene and maintaining good general health and wellbeing. When you start devoting more time to your parents and you have conversations about helping them out, talk to them and establish what kind of help they need. Once you are aware of their requirements, you can figure out how best to assist them. You may be able to cover every job yourself, you might want to get your siblings or other family members involved or you may need to contact homecare agencies or facilities that provide residential or nursing care.
Seeking expert advice
If your parents have underlying medical issues, their mobility is limited or they have been diagnosed with conditions that require treatment or ongoing management, it’s wise to seek expert advice. Speak to doctors and care teams and meet with representatives from companies or facilities that provide services that would be beneficial for your relatives. If you are caring for a parent with dementia, for example, it’s a good idea to think about visiting memory care communities and to talk to people who understand what kind of care is required and how a patient’s needs may change and evolve over time. When looking for an agency or a care facility to support your loved ones, it’s important to take your time to weigh up the options, to involve your relatives as much as possible and to search for agencies or homes that prioritize personalized care.
Making decisions together
Taking responsibility for your parents’ care is a big deal and it can be physically and mentally draining. If your parents are able to communicate effectively, and they understand their condition and their needs, talk to them, be open and honest, and encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions. Many people have an idea of how they want to live their lives as they get older and it’s crucial to recognize and appreciate personal preferences. It’s also helpful to make decisions as a family and to share caring with siblings, cousins and aunts and uncles if possible.
When you’re used to being looked after by your parents, it can be surreal and unnerving to assume the role of carer. Many of us want to look after our relatives as they get older but it can be difficult to know how to care for them and which decisions to take for the best. If you have elderly parents, analyze their needs, seek expert advice, ask them to share opinions and thoughts and get other family members involved too.