It’s almost inevitable that one day one or both of your parents is going to have some health or mobility issues when they’re older. This means that they are going to need to be cared for and the burden will likely end up on your shoulders. They may need an assistant that drives them to appointments, or does their shopping and cleaning up. Or, they may need more physical care to be able to get through their day.
It can be quite overwhelming to end up being a caretaker for an elderly loved one. It is a big responsibility. This is why it’s important to know what you’re getting into so you can take the steps necessary to make it work well. The better prepared you are, the smoother the whole process is going to go. In this article, we will go over several of the ways that you can take care of your elderly loved one.
1 – Embrace technology
Devices and software are going to make all of your lives much easier. There are so many tools that can be used that will take a lot of the work out of the care of your parents.
For instance, you can make sure that they are safe and secure when you aren’t there with them by having some kind of fall detection device. In fact, the best hearing aids on the market will also have fall detection. You kill two birds with one stone by keeping them safe and also improving their hearing.
Use smart security for their home so you can all make sure that they are not being left vulnerable if they live on their own. There are doorbell cameras that will alert you when there is movement in front of the house and you can see remotely what is happening there. Since seniors are targets of scammers and thieves this is a good device to have.
You should also use the tech yourself to stay organized so you never miss their doctor’s appointments and can be reminded when they need to have certain things done.
2 – Get some help
It’s going to be quite a challenge to do everything on your own. It is going to be a good idea to outsource some of the work. If there is landscaping that needs to be done then you should hire a landscaper or even a local high schooler that can go by and mow the lawn and trim the hedges once in a while. This will allow you to take care of the more important things.
The same goes for some of the house cleaning and chores. If you hire a cleaner to go and do the deep cleaning then you are only responsible for things like washing the dishes and doing some of the laundry.
3 – Make some modifications
The house of your parents is going to prove to be a barrier to their well-being. Whether you are living with them or somewhere else, the risk of falling is very high if you don’t make some changes to the house.
For instance, if they need to use a walker then the layout of the house is going to need to accommodate that. Furniture needs to be spaced out where there is room to maneuver. The entryways to rooms need to be clear so they can walk through the house unimpeded.
Preventing falls starts with the bathroom since it is wet and slippery in there most of the time. Get a walk-in tub with a seat so that they are able to get into the tub or shower safely. Even if you are tasked with washing them this is an important thing to have.
The toilet is another area of concern as having to use their hands involves contorting themselves. People with mobility issues should have a bidet since it is a hands-free cleaning experience that uses a jet of water. They even have dryers so there is no need to wipe to dry off after using one.
4 – Have realistic expectations
The idea is to make sure that your loved one is taken care of and at the same time is able to enjoy life. This is a noble thing to do and take care of. However, there also need to be realistic expectations so that you are not overextending yourselves and actually making things harder than they need to be.
There will need to be some setting of boundaries since you can’t do everything. Your parents or loved one may ask too much and you will aim to please. This can cause problems if things get out of hand.
Make sure to let them know how the process is going to go. You should outline what you are able to do, what they need to do themselves, and what they can expect over time. This puts you both on the same page.
5 – Make time for yourself
You are going to make a lot of sacrifices to be able to take care of an elderly parent. It is important that you also make time to take care of yourself. Unfortunately, there is usually nobody who takes care of the caretakers. It’s up to you to have the discipline to take a step back regularly to do things that you need to do for yourself. Even if the thing to do is nothing. You deserve a break even if you just want to sit in a park on a nice day and enjoy the fresh air.
When you are able to take the time necessary to recharge the batteries then you will be able to properly dedicate yourself to being the best caretaker that you can be. Without taking time for yourself you will burn out and have a hard time going forward in a healthy way. You should schedule things so that way you aren’t getting to the burnout stage before taking a break.