Growing old is something we are all going to experience one day. It might not be all fun and bingo every day, but the alternative is a lot worse. When your parents are starting to get older, you’d want to make their lives as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Here’s what looking after elderly parents well over the years involves. When it comes to family caregiving, there are a lot of emotions; it’s quite different than taking care of someone who you only know as a patient.
Understanding the caregiver role
To be a carer for someone is a term today, for better or worse. There used to be a time when assisting someone, be it your elderly neighbor lady, old uncle, or aging parent, was something we did without realizing it had a name.
It sneaks up on you, as it does today. And the amount of care you need to give is only going to increase as they age.
It was no government support back then, no benefits for making the necessary sacrifices in order to look after someone who’s done a lot for you already. And, unsurprisingly, waking up to be a full-time carer takes a massive toll on one’s personal income.
Taking care of yourself too when family caregiving
Times have changed and, even though we keep providing the same care nonetheless, the demands won’t weigh as heavy on your shoulders as they did back then. The truth is that anyone can be a carer, and most of us will at one point in our lives. Connect with others like you, seek support, and get the help you need to take proper care of your loved ones.
Looking after elderly parents: Expect many changes
Most people who end up family caregiving have it happen quickly and unexpectedly. They didn’t expect it themselves, just like you never can expect a loved one to fall ill, undergo surgery, and spend amounts of time recovering. It will happen all of the sudden, and the best you can do is to be prepared to make a few changes in your life.
How you’re going to cope with all of this, depends on how much care is necessary for looking after parents. Sometimes, their cognitive abilities are still perfectly intact, but age has put a damper on their mobility.
The more changes you’re able to make in order to accommodate this, the easier you’ll make it for your parent. Consider, for example, a stairlift so that they’re able to stay independent and prolong their feeling of mastering everyday tasks.
Family caregiving means taking control of their health
It can be tough to watch as your parents are becoming slightly more confused and unable to care for themselves. The best you can do when looking after elderly parents is to ensure the following for them:
- They eat right
- Stay hydrated
- Find pain relief
- Get enough exercise
The more they’re able to move and be active, the more likely it is that their mental health will be balanced. You’re also likely to find that your confidence improves along with theirs as one of the benefits of family caregiving.
Ensure that they’re able to enjoy their hobbies still too as part of effective family caregiving. Or, find adjustments so that this is still possible.
Having a walk, reading a book, singing, and listening to music are all excellent ways of doing this. Remember to take care of yourself too, while you’re at it, and enjoy many more years together with your loved ones.
What are some other things to expect when looking after your parents as they age?
21 thoughts on “Family caregiving: What to expect looking after elderly parents”
I have come across very few posts that are informative as well as heart-warming! Thank you for sharing such a lovely post :)
Thank you for being here, Reema :)
Important and informative Christy. I’m currently writing a book on life with a senior when I’m not quite there yet. My husband is 2 decades older than me. <3
I am not at the point of having to make decisions for my parents which is a good thing. However I would say that being sure there is a will in case hard decisions have to be made due to unforseen illness or other emergency situations.
I am just about to move into my parents house to give them more support. I have sold my house and am looking forward to being there for them. Obviously, it will be a huge change and will take a bit of adjustment. The worst thing is knowing that things wont get any better, only worse :(
This is a very timely post for me as I’ve recently given up my “day job” “career” to look after both of my parents full time. It was not an easy decision to make but it was the right decision at the right time, they need me. It is a fine balance to look after them but still leave them independent, some days I hit the balance right and somedays I don’t. Each day we go with the flow, no set times for anything, I make plans and if I get to carry them out it’s a bonus. Keeping them happy, looked after and cared for is key. Your post is very welcome 💜
Your actions show your selflessness, Dawn, and for that I commend you. Our parents take care of us and later in life we may be fortunate enough to look after them too. Hugs xx
You are right in saying we may be fortunate to look after them in later life. It’s not an easy job but I feel blessed to be doing this for them xx
It is tough Christy and some very helpful advice for those who might be faced with this. It helps if you have outside help to give you some respite. It is difficult managing the change in the relationship for daughter or son to carer. But worth it. Great post..
That is so true, it isn’t an easy transition trying to stay as “daughter” whilst turning into “mom” (carer).
This hits very close to home for me, Christy. All I can say is “Thank you” 💜
Many hugs <3
Excellent post, Christy. We’ve been through this and out the other side. Another difficult thing is that you’re in the middle of a generation sandwich – your parents need help and your children need help with their kids. At some point, we’ll be facing the specter of needing care – dreading that! That independence issue is HUGE!
Aging, then death, seems like a faulty design. However, we do our best.
Wonderful article, really sweet.
Thanks Teri xx
Ah Christy, where were you with this post a few years back when I was taking care of my father OBM! This post is so important to people who are in this position!
Absolutely heart touching post!!
This post really hits home with me, as I am in the midst of trying to make long term decisions with regards to my parents. My mom is suffering from Alzheimer’s, though I couldn’t possibly tell you what stage. My dad is beginning to show signs of dementia himself, but still insists on caring for my mom at home. They are both in their 80’s now, and I worry constantly about their safety and well-being. But, the(dad mainly) are very independent. It takes a great deal of strength to choose to become caregiver for a parent or loved one. Thanks for sharing this!!
This is a great post and very important for all of us.
May God forgive us if we have not given our parents the proper care and support they deserve!
Thanks for sharing
another thing that sucks about growing up is watching your parent growing old. It is so so dreadful and I do not even know why. But with these tips it is very much heartening.