If it has fallen to you to take care of your aging parent, you are in for an emotionally complex and deeply challenging experience, and it helps to have a little help along the way so that you can keep your head during the demands that will be coming your way!
One of the most important qualities you will have to nurture is compassion, it’s going to make many frustrating days a little easier to handle! Putting yourself in your parent’s shoes, imagining how you would feel if after a lifetime of being independent you would have to start depending on your own children for some of the most basic things in life, like getting to the bathroom, having a wash and maybe even having to be fed –will make a difference to your levels of frustration which will undoubtedly arise in the process.
Try a few of these ideas on for size, and if they fit, use them, it will make you all happier in the long run:
1. If you have a close enough relationship with your elderly parent, let them know that taking care of them and easing their daily life is something you do with great respect, even on the days you definitely may not feel that way – it’s part of the natural cycle of life, and as difficult as it is for you, your family and your parent, how you take this journey is determined by your attitude to a responsibility this great.
2. Throw out expectations of anything emotionally or you will be headed for trouble. The way things were before is over, this is a whole new phase of life for you, and the last phase of life for your parent, which means that there could be either positive or negative emotions brought to the surface that could bring you closer or push you further apart. It’s best just to set expectations aside instead of watching them crash and burn in the wake of disappointment!
3. This is going to be your turn to take care of your parent instead of the other way around, which means that nothing that used to work in terms of emotions, relationship, communication and more, is ever going to be the same again; taking care of an elderly frail parent is going to be about writing a completely new chapter, one that has never before been explored by either of you, and it will require a ton of courage for both of you.
4. Don’t try to be everything at all times, both of you are learning a new way of living, at different stages of life, and taking it a little slowly as you each feel your way around this new way of life, may help you each to lead a little to get the balance right.
5. Taking care of your elderly parent is never going to be a bed of roses minus the thorns, and the thorns you will be facing will have a lot to do with the frustration and anger at the loss of independence that your parent will be trying to adjust to – you are definitely going to need a little help from friends and family that you can talk to when the barbs get particularly nasty, and they can!
6. Let your parent know that their opinions or advice still count to you, if that is the type of relationship you have already enjoyed. Involve your elderly parent in even the smallest of decisions in your life, it not only shows your parent that their advice is still important to you, but shows them that you love them and respect their part in your life.
7. Think hard before you start ordering your parent around instead of making them part of the decisions that affect their daily life, care and circumstances – this type of bullying turns even the sweetest of us into stubborn mules, add that to the moments of anger your parent feels at the sense of helplessness and you have a recipe for disaster!
8. Make sure that you take care of yourself and that you have a supportive friendship you can rely on when you need to talk things out; you will be doing no one any good if you allow yourself to fall apart by giving in completely to the situation – take time out, take deep breaths, spend a little time with your Higher Power, and remember, your life is still yours, and it’s important to look after it if you are to be of any use as a caregiver to your parent!
If your parent is living with dementia, you are going to need even more support on every level; nothing can rob your relationship of love and great memories as easily as the face of dementia can! No matter how compassionate you are, how patient you are, this will be one of the greatest challenges of your life, and if you don’t reach for help when you need it, you could easily be on the way to serious depression!
This is what CareChamp does, they come to your aid to relieve you for as many hours or days as you may need assistance, highly trained and experienced, ready to lend a helping hand when you need it most to give you the peace of mind you deserve, knowing that your parent is in capable, caring hands until you return from your breather!
Contact the team at CareChamp to find out more about their home based caregivers that are available to assist 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you will be making life easier for you, your parent and your family by enlisting help!