Elderly individuals often rely on their adult children during their old years, which can become overbearing and unsustainable for many. It’s tough to offer your parents assistance without trying to take over their lives. How best do you navigate this stage as an adult child, taking care of your elderly parents? This post offers several helpful tips enabling you to get the job done in a caring and sympathetic manner.
1. Be your parents’ advocate
In many cases, the elderly experience one form of illness, and with this occurrence comes the need for constant monitoring of their health and physical state. One of the best ways to help a sick, elderly parent is to be their advocate in such instances. Being an advocate means you equip yourself with every piece of information about their illness, what it means to their health and what its treatment will entail. With treatment, medication management is vital. Be sure to know the medications they need to consume and the times they must be taken. If you can, accompany them to all their appointments with health experts, making sure to take notes and ask questions.
2. Give them autonomy
Even though you’re acting as their advocate for their most vulnerable moments, it is also imperative that your parents know and feel that they still have some control over their lives and decisions. Instead of doing things for your parents, try to do these tasks alongside them. This approach might seem time-consuming and slow compared to you handling everything, but it is an easy way to let your parents know you respect their independence and wish to keep their self-esteem intact. Enabling your parents to take the lead is also ideal because it helps keep their functional abilities sharp longer, preventing a decline in their mental and physical functioning.
3. Empathize with them
Dealing with an elderly parent can test everything from your patience to your tolerance level, and the stakes are even higher when said parent is ill. Sometimes, their moody behavior, frustrations, and neediness can come off as unpleasant, but this is where they need you the most. Understanding where they are coming from is the key to navigating such moments. Aging comes with many losses, from the loss of energy and health to employment, independence, and in some cases, mobility. These losses can happen all at once, which is an overwhelming experience. Putting yourself in their shoes is a great way to learn empathy and also to enable you to offer the best support you can when you can.
4. Get other families involved
There are days you can’t go at it alone, and you’ll need extra hands. Never be ashamed to ask for help from other family members. Keeping other family members updated on your parent’s health or current situation is a great way to share responsibilities and coordinate visits or assistance. Getting family involved can resemble splitting healthcare expenses, splitting visiting days and appointment visits but ensuring everyone is kept in the loop on new updates.
Elderly parents usually experience an increased need for assistance with everyday tasks, from managing medications to preparing meals and taking decisions regarding their health. The ability to offer support during these years is essential to help improve their mood and reduce the speed at which their health declines.