Bringing up kids is a full-time job but it’s rarely the only responsibility we have. As well as running a home, you may have a career or employment to balance as well. For many parents, providing care or assistance to elderly relatives is something that becomes a pressing issue. No matter what age your kids are, you may find yourself supporting your own parents sooner than you think.
Due to this, it’s important to have a plan in place and establish effective strategies that enable you to manage your ever-increasing schedule. With this in mind, take a look at these top tips for caring for elderly parents while parenting:
Talk to Your Parents About Their Wishes
It’s easy to make assumptions about what an elderly relative wants or what type of help they might need, but there’s no substitute for actually asking your parents what they need. Open lines of communication will stand you in good stead if they require additional assistance in the future, so broaching the subject now can be beneficial for everyone involved.
What’s more – your parent(s) will be pleased (and relieved) to know that you want to help them as they get older. At a time when many people feel unheard or isolated, taking the time to ask for their opinion and input will also give your parents a sense of autonomy and independence.
Identify What Level of Help is Required
It’s certainly important to listen to what your parents tell you when you ask whether they need help but don’t take a rebuttal at face value. It can be hard for people to ask for or accept help as they get older, and a parent may not want to burden you.
When you visit your parent’s house, keep an eye on their living conditions and notice how easily they’re getting about. It’s not unusual for older people to develop mobility or balance issues, which could be a sign that they need more help than they’ll admit to. Weeds growing uncontrollably in their yard or trash piling up outside are telltale signs that your parents could do with some assistance.
You may also notice that their home’s interior looks and feels unrecognizable due to too much dirt or clutter. The groceries in their pantry and fridge may also be expired. These signs suggest that your aging parents are struggling with their independence, so you shouldn’t ignore them. However, keep in mind that you will have to anticipate some needs because you may never notice them when you visit. For instance, your parents will need a GPS personal alarm if they have Alzheimer’s to prevent them from getting lost, even if they do not have a history of wandering off.
Although it can be a bit of a battle to persuade elderly parents to accept help when they’re insistent they don’t, overlooking a clear need for assistance can be harmful to your parents and yourself.
Assess Whether Your Parents Can Live Independently
As your parents get older, living independently may no longer be a realistic option. Even if your parents appear to be coping well in their own home right now, there might come a time when they need an alternative option, so plan ahead now and talk to them about their future.
For some families, inviting elderly parents to live with younger relatives is a viable solution. However, if you’re short on space, you have young children, or your relatives require medical care, moving them into your home might not be the right decision for anyone.
With highly qualified staff, charming surroundings, and specialist care, residential communities, like Brandywine Colts Neck can be a breath of fresh air. Combining independence and autonomy with round-the-clock support, engaging activities, and private suites, a residential community can be the ideal option for elderly parents.
Encourage Your Kids to Spend Time with Your Parents
Grandparents typically love spending time with their grandkids, so make the most of the opportunity to get together with extended family as much as possible. If you have young kids and worry about them taking them to a home that’s not child-proofed, invite your parents to your home or settle for playing in the garden instead. Alternatively, if you have teens that would rather be socializing with friends than staying in with family, encourage them to give up a small amount of time each week to spend with their grandparents.
Even if your parents aren’t as active as they once were or are experiencing health issues, such as memory problems, spending time with young people can be a real tonic. In fact, you’ll be surprised at just how much fun both your parents and your kids can have when you let them enjoy each other’s company.
Give Your Kids Age-Appropriate Information
Children are adept at picking up on changes, even if they don’t always understand them. If your parent is unwell or there’s a major shift in lifestyle, your kids are likely to pick up on your increased stress levels. Many parents try to shield their kids from potentially worrying situations but keeping them in the dark could fuel their anxiety and may result in them acting out.
Instead, give them age-appropriate information and encourage them to ask you questions, if they feel they need to. This is a great time to facilitate intergenerational learning and letting your kids see you taking care of your parents can be a good opportunity to teach them about how important it is to be caring and compassionate.
Make Respite a Priority
When you’re caring for elderly relatives and parenting your own kids, it’s difficult to make any time for yourself. However, neglecting your own needs can become problematic when your well-being begins to suffer. Chronic stress can be damaging to both your physical and emotional well-being, so make sure you factor some respite time into your usual routine.
This might mean arranging respite care in a residential community for your parents or arranging a sleepover with friends for your kids, for example. Alternatively, factoring in some self-care time every day can be a helpful way to take care of your own needs while you’re busy caring for everyone else.
Building a Care Network
While it can sometimes feel that you’re dealing with everything alone, it doesn’t have to be this way. By identifying the help you need and asking for it, you can build up a care network that takes the pressure of and provides the emotional and practical support you need. From carpooling to get your kids to school to arranging for a nurse or caregiver to visit your parents daily, there are a number of ways that you can modify your schedule to ensure everyone’s needs are met – including your own!