Tips for Caring for An Aging Parent
Our parents carried us, fed us, bathed us, taught us, and helped us every step of the way. They went through many sleepless nights for us, and now they are in need of help. If Mom or Dad are going to be living with you now, you need to have clear expectations for what it’s going to be like. Have measures put in place to help give you a break every now and then, and also, to support you emotionally and financially.
- Understand the Time Commitment
Caring for another person is time consuming. It depends on how much care the parent needs too. Some are very independent, but need extra help with a few things around the house. Others need round-the-clock, full-time care. Determine what kind of assistance that your parent needs, and see if you are able to devote that time to them. It’s not doing anyone a service if you let them live with you, and yet you can’t give them all the attention that they need. Be honest with your availability so that everyone can make the best decision.
2. Understand the Emotional Commitment
Your parent has always been the leader. They’ve always been the strong one, who would give you advise, and make you feel better when you were sick. Now, the tables have turned. They are still who they have always been, but they need your help. It’s draining on a person to care for someone else. You are now putting all of your needs second, or last, and it’s hard to accomplish the things in your life that you need to get done. It’s easy to become angry at them, frustrated at the situation, or struggle with seeing your parent age. It’s an emotional battle, and you need to be ready for the dramatic mood swings.
You won’t be the only one going through those swings either. Parents are used to being on their own. They’ve had their own house and their own habits for decades, and now it’s all changed. They are going to struggle with the fact that you’re having to help them. It can be embarrassing at times. Have patience, because everyone is going through a major change.
3. Understand the Physical Commitment
You’re going to have to be present more often than not. You can’t have the late nights, or the weekends away without setting up another caretaker for Mom or Dad. It’s demanding on you to be present. Your parent isn’t going to be able to clean up after themselves well, so you’ll have more cooking, and cleaning to do without much help. There may even be times where you have to physically pick them up. The physical strain creeps up on you in small ways, but it can be demanding because you never get a break. Have someone else that you can rely on to help during these times.
4. Understand the Financial Commitment
You always hear about how much money it is to raise a child, but it’s also true for caring for an elderly parent. Most of the time they live on a fixed income with lofty medical bills. It’s going to take some resources to support another person in the house. Look at the finances with a practical eye, and share your reasoning with the parent. Talk to them about lifestyle changes if there’s a need to cut back so that there’s more money to go around.
Maybe that means not going out to eat as often, or skipping the beauty parlor every week. Those things don’t matter in the long run, but they are short term pleasures that can be hard to let go of. It will take everyone working together to make the money work.
Caring for someone else is a big job, but it can be the most fulfilling and rewarding job on earth. It’s a way to show your love to your parents, and to care for them how they cared for you. Be patient with the transition, and focus on enjoying their company. It’s a wonderful thing to have a grandparent in the house to spread love and stories with you and the kids.