Caring for the elderly can be difficult, especially when it’s your mom or dad. Often, many of the responsibilities of caring for elderly parents tend to fall on adult children or relatives, which can be quite demanding if you do not have the resources and support you need to properly care for your aging parents.
If you are acting as a caregiver and need tips and resources for the elderly, CareLink can help! Even if your parents are in good health and living on their own, there are still actions you can take to prepare for transitioning into the next stage of life.
Where do you start?
First and foremost, it is important to remember that the aging process is a natural part of life. Nobody wants to think of their parents becoming old or unable to continue to do the things that make them lead happy lives. As your parents get older, however, some change is inevitable. The best place to start is by being patient and kind to yourself as well as your elderly parent.
What is elder care?
A caretaker, or caregiver, is responsible for the well-being of another person, which includes assisting with personal care and hygiene, preparing food and drinks, assisting with mobility, providing healthcare and medical assistance, engaging in emotional and mental support, handling financial and home affairs, and providing transportation. Basically, you transition from your previous role as “child” into parenting your parent, which can be complicated.
Most importantly, elder care means providing a sense of security, emotional wellness, and independence for the elderly. As difficult as you may find it to take care of another person, it is even more difficult to rely on someone else for all of your personal needs.
You cannot pour from an empty cup
One of the most important things to remember when caring for an elderly family member is to take care of yourself too. Caretakers often do not know how to deal with the stress of caring for elderly parents and eventually find themselves up against emotional and mental strain, especially while trying to juggle your own busy life and family. As the holidays draw near, many family caregivers feel an even greater strain. Self-care is not selfish and does not have to be expensive.
Give yourself permission to feel your feelings without guilt.
It is okay to acknowledge when you are feeling emotionally drained or exhausted without the guilt of feeling that way. You are a human being with human emotions and physical needs too. CareLink has a list of books for caregivers that can help understand and process the way they are feeling through the words of other caregivers.
Take care of your physical health.
Believe it or not, you are not a superhero! Even if you feel as if everyone is depending on you, you cannot help anyone if you are not eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and taking your medications. Just think of your body like a car. If you do not give it the proper fuel it needs, it is not going to run correctly or get you where you need to go.
Guard your mental well-being.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Carve out time to spend away from your elderly parent and not just time to run errands or take a nap. You need quality time for yourself, so do not forget to schedule time for things that make you feel good. Don’t let the worry of feeling as if you’re abandoning your loved one keep you from giving yourself the rest and care your body needs. CareLink offers respite care services and grants to help caregivers take care of themselves while someone else cares for their aging family member.
Get a little help from your friends.
It is not healthy to try to run the show all on your own. Remind yourself that it is okay to ask for help, because when you try to do everything on your own, you run the risk of burning out.
Caretakers may often hear the phrase “caregiver burnout” when they enter the world of elder care. Caregiver burnout is defined as “a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion” and can happen when you experience a lot of stress, when help is not readily available, or when you try to do more than you have time, money, or energy to manage.
This is also a fairly common experience. Nearly half of family caregivers report finding trouble balancing their own lives and their caregiving responsibilities. Moreover, 40% of caregivers reported a diagnosis of depression. If you find yourself struggling, it is time to ask for help.
When to ask for help
If you feel burnout or if you just need a helping hand, it may be time to call for reinforcements. Sometimes asking for help can seem like such a daunting task, but it can be as simple as typing “home health care near me” into a search engine online.
There are many options for home care in Little Rock and the surrounding metropolitan areas. CareLink’s HomeCare services provide assistance with day-to-day tasks to help your elderly parent stay independent while in their own home with the help of our trained caregivers. Assistance comes in many forms: bathing, grooming, dressing, light housekeeping, mobility assistance, meal preparation, and more!
For more information
Our mission is to provide resources for homebound older people, active older people, and family caregivers in central Arkansas. If you or someone you know is a homebound older person wanting to live independently, an active older person wanting to stay healthy and get involved in the community, or a family caregiver needing help locating available services for seniors, contact us today!
If you would like to read more about CareLink’s mission of providing older people and their families with helpful information and meeting the opportunities and challenges of aging, you can visit our website, or call us at (501) 372-5300 or (800) 482-6359.