Aging parents may need help at some point in their lives, despite what they may want you to believe. The actual help and support that you can provide for your parents will vary depending on your own situation as well as their situation and needs (medical and otherwise). If you are looking for a roadmap on how to make sure that you are caring for them properly without taking away their freedoms, and what you need to keep in mind when you are looking at addressing the problem head-on, you may want to consider the following suggestions.
- Be respectful of their space: This is hard, especially if you’re getting used to helping them with odd jobs and even details such as housekeeping. You’ll need to be helpful and supportive without infringing on their privacy, and that will most likely be difficult at first! Be patient.
- Communicate with them about their needs: Sometimes, your parents might be really open about where you can help. Other times, they might be a little harder to read, so it’s going to be very important to communicate openly and understand what their needs are, and what yours are, too. As your parents adjust to having you involved actively, this will get a little easier on both sides.
- Be willing to make tough decisions with, and for, them: Sometimes a decision just has to be made. Maybe you have to take over giving medications, or perhaps your parents need help with personal care. It’s always going to be hard to make those decisions, but you will have to be a part of the equation.
- Step in wherever and however you are able to: This is an important one. You are only going to be able to do certain tasks. It’s not your job to be a personal support worker and you don’t need to take on tasks that you aren’t equipped for. Likewise, if your sibling is a better match for one need, while you’re a better one for another, that’s okay too. It’s just about doing what you can.
Don’t forget to factor in your needs
There is a huge human component to the idea of taking care of aging parents. It’s hard to see them suffer and struggle; after all, these people raised you and cared for you in a way that shaped who you were. It’s going to be a lot, emotionally speaking, to turn that around and be ready to care for them, in return.
If you do take on a caregiving role in some capacity, make sure to be aware of caregiver burnout and be ready to take some time for yourself. Not only will this help you to keep yourself together, but it will also ensure that your parents get the quality care that they deserve,.