When your parents start to age and be less able to do tasks and chores that they always have done so competently, it can be a real shock to the system. You need to play a more active role in their daily lives. Often, parents hit their senior years when your own children are not fully independent – you are being pulled from both sides, and you have a job to juggle. Is this you:
- You feel overwhelmed by the decisions you must now make.
- You feel inadequate by doing an incomplete job as a child, parent, partner, friend, and
- You feel like you have no life.
- Your parents’ decline makes you feel sad, angry and guilty.
The statements above are powerful, and they articulate common feelings that are experienced by people who have the responsibility of caring for their aging parents. You may have hoped that at this time of your life you would be able to spend more time devoted to doing things for you. Instead, you find that you are now having to make legal, financial and medical decisions that have serious consequences. You go through complex emotions as you try to do the right thing by everyone. It’s a tough time.
To help you through this time, here are some strategies, hints and tips to help you cope.
While your parents are still living independently, you need to make their home as friendly as possible for people with diminishing mobility, flexibility, eyesight and even cognitive abilities. They may be resistant to the idea of making changes, but you need to make sure that they understand that it is in their best interest.
If you know that they are as safe in their homes as possible, you will have one less thing to worry about. A Helpline panic alarm for elderly people can offer reassurance to both you and your parents that if a situation arises, they can alert help easily.
You need to be as knowledgeable as you can about your parents’ health, finances and routines. If they still have capacity, they need to get their estate in order and from a practical point of view, you need to understand what bank accounts are used to pay the bills and where the pension goes – you need to gain Power of Attorney to be able control their finances. Once you have a comprehensive understanding of how they live, you will be able to research which services they are entitled to and able to access.
When you are organized you reduce feelings of stress and that you are unable to cope. Keep your parents home clutter free, have a planner that marks their appointments on, so that you are all aware of where they need to be and when, and make lists. Your to-do list is going to be a critical tool in keeping organized successfully – prioritizing tasks is key – don’t sweat the small stuff!
Looking after aging parents is a tough time. You will be on an emotional rollercoaster that sometimes you just want to get off. When you feel yourself struggling, it is important that you tell friends and family how you are feeling so that you receive support and help.