Caring for elderly parents can be difficult on your mental, physical, and financial well-being. Click here to learn how to manage these circumstances.
On average, 34.2 million American Adults care for their elderly parents without any form of financial assistance.
As rewarding as it is, caring for elderly parents is a mental, physical, and financial challenge.
If you need a little help balancing caring for your parents with everything else, this article is for you. Read on for 5 tips and strategies.
1. Be Realistic About How Much Care is Needed :
Before you can decide how you will care for your elderly parents, you need to determine how much care is needed.
You don’t want to overcare and take away their independence if it’s not necessary. Maybe they only need help to pay their bills on time, but they don’t need help getting dressed.
You also don’t want to underestimate how much care they need. Perhaps they tell you they always take their medicine, but their prescriptions go unfilled.
If one or both parents suffer from a health condition, is easier to determine the level of care they need based on medical recommendations. However, if they appear in great health, you need to watch out for the signs.
Start by paying attention to the state of their home:
- Unkept yard or outside of their home
- Dirty and untidy house
- Broken appliances or decorations
- Spoiled food in the fridge or pantry
- Lack of personal hygiene
- A stack of unpaid bills
- Unexplained injuries and bruises
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lack of interest in former hobbies
- Confusion on how to perform simple tasks
- Lack of energy
- Unexplained dents and scratches on their car
- Failure to refill prescriptions
- Strange odors in the house
It might be difficult for your parents to admit they need help, so you’ll need to observe and determine for yourself. Once you assess the situation, you’ll be able to determine how much care is needed.
2. Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself :
When you decide to care for your elderly parents, it might become your main focus. Some people assume the role of caregiver to the point they forget to care for themselves.
If you recently became the primary caregiver, it’s important you don’t forget you still matter.
Neglecting your basic needs will not make you a better caregiver, in fact, it will affect your ability to care for them.
Remember, it won’t make you the worst person in the world if you decide to leave your parents in the care of someone else for a weekend. Make time to still enjoy the things you like such as getting a manicure, coffee with friends, or go to a movie.
Overloading yourself while caring for elderly parents will make you less patient and resentful — leading to stress and guilt.
Maintain a strong support group in order to avoid isolating yourself. Surround yourself with friends or family members who will understand your situation.
When you spend time with friends, avoid talking about the same subject. Instead, discuss other topics that will help you keep your mind off things. Take care of your health. Maintain a healthy diet full of fresh foods, and listen to your body if you fall ill.
3. Get a Little More Help
If you’re the primary caregiver for your elderly parents, but you have siblings, it’s not a bad idea to ask for their help. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to help from siblings if they’re not around or you don’t have any.
Seek help from other members of your extended family as another option. If getting family assistance is not an option, you can find other resources to help you when you need a break.
Try enrolling your parents in an adult day-care program. This will help them with socialization and give you a needed break and peace of mind.
Find a community volunteer senior companion program in your area. Look into hiring an in-home caregiver for even a few days out of the week. Click to learn more about at home caregivers.
Find short-term respite care near you. If your finances allow it, hire an assistant to help you with some errands to free some of your time.
4. Address Their Emotional Needs :
Caring for elderly parents often focuses on fulfilling all of their physical needs, which means you might forget to address their emotional needs. It’s not always easy for seniors to admit they can no longer take care of themselves and need the full-time assistance of others.
In order to help them avoid feeling depressed and isolated, it’s important to maintain emotional contact. Always listen and encourage them to express how they feel emotionally. Continue having meaningful conversations with them and encourage others to do as well.
Allow them to continue to have as much freedom as physically possible so they don’t feel handicapped. Encourage them to maintain communication with the outside world as much as possible. Little things such as teaching them how to use video calls can make a positive impact on their well-being.
5. Sort Out the Financial Details :
One of the most challenging parts of caring for elderly parents is to sort out the finances. On average the out of pocket cost of caring for an elderly parent is $7,000 a year. If you need financial assistance when caring for your elderly parents, there are a few government programs that offer assistance such as Medicaid.
Remember it’s not all about your finances. After you become a caregiver, you will not only be taking care of your finances but you’ll be in charge of your parent’s finances.
Make sure you make a list of their assets, debts, liabilities, and income. You will have to make decisions about how to handle these and make sure your elderly parents meet their financial obligations.
6. Make Caring for Elderly Parents Easier :
Caring for elderly parents is a rewarding, yet challenging task. In order to make the best of this experience, it’s important you go into it with the right mindset.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, take care of yourself, and care for your parent’s emotional well-being.
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