There are roughly 40 million people who are unpaid caregivers in the United States for people above the age of 65. Of these caregivers, nine out of ten are caring for elderly family members.
There is a range of activities that caregivers might perform, including assisting with housework, providing companionship, or providing physical or medical care.
Caring for aging parents or other relatives is a task that presents its own unique challenges. While many people find it rewarding to help their elderly family members at this later stage of life, it can also greatly change what your life looks like day today.
Are you looking for caregiving tips? Here are seven to help you learn how to care for aging parents.
- Create a Routine
When you create a routine and commit to it, it can help give each day purpose and structure. While people of all ages can benefit from routine, it is particularly important to develop a routine for elderly people. This means scheduling sleep time, wake-up time, meals, exercise, rest, and entertainment.
You can also schedule specific times to deal with any necessary business that needs to be taken care of, like bills and other tasks. If there are legal matters to take care of, you might consider looking into attorneys for senior citizens.
- Allow Them to Change and Accept Them When They Do
Something that can be very difficult when caring for aging parents or family members is the way that they appear to be changing. It can be frustrating to see your elderly relatives acting differently than you remember them in the past. You might notice that they don’t seem to remember things that they used to care about or people that they knew well.
It is important to allow your elderly parents to change. There are many different stages in life, and we all change as we move through them.
For many, it is difficult to see their elderly family members becoming forgetful. Instead of trying to press them on the fact that they should remember something, allow them the space to forget things they once knew.
This is not only healthy for your family member it is also going to help you during this process. It can be hard to see the people that we love change so radically so quickly. However, excepting that they are going through a time of change will help you during this life stage as well.
- Be Respectful and Patient
People might need care for a variety of reasons as they get older. No matter what forms of care your providing, it is incredibly important to be patient and respectful.
It can be difficult for people as they get older to lose control over the things that they used to take care of in life. Many of the things that they require from other people can lead them to feel undignified. Being empathetic and understanding this aspect of getting older can help inspire you to always be respectful and patient no matter what is going on.
- Be Willing to Accept Help
While it is wonderful that you are willing and able to care for aging parents, you do not need to be a martyr to the cause. Being able to ask for help when you need it or allowing others to help when they offer it is very important for both you and your elderly relative.
You are not the only one that wants to help. If somebody offers to pick up groceries for you or to make a repair at your elderly relative’s home, allow them to give in the ways that they can. You are giving so much to your aging relative, and you should allow yourself to ask for accept help when you need it.
- Connect With Others
It is important to try and build a support network when you are caring for aging parents.
During this time, be sure to be checking in with your friends and family members. It can also be a good idea to get to know the doctors and medical practitioners that work with your aging relative. Having a support network can ensure that help is their if you need it.
It can also simply be healthy for you to have people to talk to during this time.
- Have an Emergency Plan
It can help reduce stress for both you and your aging loved one if you create an emergency plan with them. It can be a good idea to have an emergency kit at home that has nonperishable food, water, first-aid materials, and medications.
You can also identify an emergency contact that they can call if an emergency occurs. Make sure that the information they need is easily accessible to them in the case of an emergency.
- Take Care of Yourself
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s vital that you take care of yourself when you’re acting as a caregiver. It can be easy to feel like you need to give your all to your aging relative, however, this is the perfect recipe for burnout. It’s absolutely essential that you take the time to care for yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Managing stress is an important part of the caregiving process. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient amounts of sleep are important for managing stress. You also might consider picking up other habits including yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, journaling, or hobbies that help you relax and destress.
These Caregiving Tips Can Help You Navigate This Stage of Life
We hope that this caregiving guide can help you during this particular stage in your life and your elderly family member’s life. It is absolutely wonderful that you are willing to put your time and energy into caring for aging parents. However, it’s very important that you take care of yourself as well, as you’ll be able to help the most when you’re at your best.
Did you find this article full of caregiving tips interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more fascinating and informative content!