If you take care of your aging parents or an ill relative or friend, you are a care giver. This is a huge undertaking that comes with a lot of stress and emotions. With aging parents, one or two adult children take on the role of care giver whether gradually over a lengthy time span or after a recent visit where you realized your parents need more help.
For many of us, aging parents need varying levels of assistance from helping with the basic necessities and errands to providing more intensive care like hygiene, helping them eat and other needs. No matter the level of care, the job of care giving takes a toll on those who take on the responsibility. Here are some tips on how to be a great caregiver.
Put Yourself in Their Place. This is as simple as having a little empathy. When you think about what great care your parents took of you, it makes sense that you want to reciprocate. After all, you love them with all your heart. And, truth be told, they would rather still be the “parent” that can help their children out instead of the other way around.
Stop to Breathe. It is so easy to get frustrated with your aging parents. They are not as quick as they used to be and sometimes you have to explain things a few times. But absolutely have to be patient and understanding. Our aging parents with speech impediments due to chronic conditions like strokes or other illnesses can be especially challenging. But if we exercise patience (remember patience is a virtue) and stop to breathe, we have a better handle on dealing with the daily issues at hand.
Maintain a Routine. The elderly are the epitome of creatures of habit with everything having a time and place each day. Adult children of aging parents need to do their best to maintain a routine when it comes to the caregiving of their parents. Yes – it might be difficult to develop (especially if they have young children who drag their feet each morning) but, in the end, everyone is much happier and calmer. And, think about it, the routine with parents inevitably trickles into other parts of daily life so who knows? Life just may end up getting a whole lot easier (well we can hope).
Be Calm, Cool and Collected. To the point of stopping to breathe is being calm, cool and collected. This is not so much about patience but about having a calm demeanor and a soothing voice even though there are times of frustration that can drive any caregiver to the point of madness. Everyone is more affable when their surroundings are calm.
Offer Encouragement. When caring for aging parents who are physically or mentally impaired, caregivers must offer words of encouragement. Even the most independent and successful individuals like it so it makes sense that those who are incapacitated or simply slower would want encouragement.
Sit and Listen. With caregiving, there is a lot of sitting during the day. But during this marathon sessions of nothing to do, the elderly love to talk about their lives. This is often a great chance to hear what parents were like as young people and sometimes the trouble they may have stirred up. They can tell the stories now with no repercussions from their kids.
Express Love. One thing to which aging parents respond is expressions of love. No matter how old the adult children are, aging parents are still parents that we love and adore. Taking moments to make sure they know they are still the parents and you are grateful to have had their love and direction in your life makes everyone feel better.
Suggestion for Professional Caregivers
Sometimes caregivers are not family members but paid professionals who are charged with the responsibility of caring for your parents. While your first inclination is what you can do for your parents, these also apply to anyone you hire as a caregiver.
The only other suggestion for professional caregivers applies to reliability. Professional caregivers have an awesome responsibility and all involved rely on them to be on time and care for their patients just as any family member would.
Caregiving is a huge task but one that is very rewarding. Be careful not to get caught up in all the madness that can take place and take moments to enjoy your time with your parents.
Discovery Village At Twin Creeks offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 972.440.1218.