Caring for Aging Parents: Basic Tips

daughter taking care of her senior citizen mother
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Caring for aging parents can be a difficult and challenging task. Adult children are often thrust into the caregiver role with little warning or preparation. In addition to the emotional stress of dealing with a parent who can no longer take care of themselves, caregivers also face many practical challenges. This article provides some essential tips for those who find themselves in the position of caring for an aging parent.

Be Prepared to Take On Additional Responsibilities

As a caregiver, you may find yourself taking on tasks that your parent is no longer able to handle, such as cooking, cleaning, and transportation. Be sure to set aside some time each day to perform these tasks or delegate them to other family members or hired help.

Here are some additional responsibilities you may need to take on:

  • Finances: Paying bills, budgeting, and managing investments
  • Healthcare: Making doctor’s appointments, coordinating care, and understanding insurance
  • Housing: Maintaining the home, handling repairs and modifications

Create a Support System

You cannot do it all alone. It is important to build a support system of family, friends, and professionals to help you through this difficult time. Here are some people you may want to include in your support system:

  • A trusted friend or family member who can provide emotional support
  • An attorney who can help with legal and financial issues
  • A financial planner who can offer advice on how to best use your resources
  • A senior care specialist who can provide information on care options and resources
  • A geriatrician or other health care provider who can coordinate your parent’s care

In addition to these people, many support groups and online forums are available to help you through this tough time. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it.

Get Organized

Caregiving can be a full-time job. To help keep things organized, create a system for managing your parent’s care. You might want to keep a notebook with important information, like contact numbers, doctors’ names, appointments, and medications. You might also find it helpful to set up a Google Calendar or similar online calendar to track doctor’s appointments, medications, and other important tasks.

Make sure you have copies of important documents, like your parent’s driver’s license, insurance information, and power of attorney. Keep these in a safe place where you can access them easily.

Portrait of a man taking care of her mother in wheel chair

Be Patient

While it can be difficult to do, it is important to try to be patient with your aging parent. Many elderly parents are resistant to the idea of giving up their independence and may not want to admit that they need help. It is important to have patience and understanding as you go through this process.

Here are some tips for dealing with a resistant parent:

  • Start with baby steps. Rather than asking your parent to move in with you, start by having them come for a weekend visit.
  • Try not to be too pushy. If your parent is resistant to the idea of getting help, gently suggest that you would like to talk about it.
  • Be prepared to accept that they may never want to move in with you. Some parents would rather live in their own homes, even if it is not the safest option. If this is the case, try to work with them to make sure their home is safe and comfortable.

Make Time for Yourself

You cannot be a good caregiver if you do not take care of yourself. Be sure to schedule some “me time” into your week. This can be anything that relaxes and rejuvenates you, whether it is getting a massage, going for a walk, or reading a book.

You may also want to consider joining a support group for caregivers. This can be a great way to meet other people who are going through the same thing as you.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

It is important to remember that you cannot do it all. If you are feeling overwhelmed, consider seeking professional help. This can be in the form of a therapist, support group, or even medication. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Sooner is always better than later.

There you go! You now have some basic tips for caring for aging parents. You can get through this tough time with a little planning and some help from family and friends. Remember to take care of yourself, too. So take some time for yourself, join a support group if needed, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

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