No adult children could ever prepare for the huge responsibility that taking care of elderly parents entails. But once it’s there, and no other family members can step into the role, you just have to do what you got to do.
Of course, you can hire a family caregiver to look after your aging parents. Or, if you’re left with no option, you can place your aging parents in a nursing home.
But what if you can’t afford the services, or your elderly parents would rather have their adult children or other family members caring for them?
Adult children caring for their aging parents opens a new chapter in your relationship and life. Besides, caring for aging parents as a family caregiver takes a lot of effort, time, and sacrifice.
It’s crucial to understand when to engage and to set expectations between what you can handle and what your elderly parent needs. This article provides tips to guide and help you transition into the role of an adult child caring and giving caregiver support to their elderly parents.
Learning When to Step Into the Caregiver Role as Adult Children
There are many reasons why adult children and other family members take the responsibility of caring for aging parents, which include the following:
- Aging parents are undergoing treatment or have a new medical diagnosis
- New or recurring health issues
- Health emergency
- Aging parents experience a gradual loss of independent functioning
- Unmanageable high blood pressure
- Too many health problems
- Aging parents suffering from memory loss
- Adult children finding it hard to look for caregiver support
- Aging parents prefer to stay at own homes instead of a nursing home
- Aging parents in need of long-term care
The reactions are different when it suddenly hits adult children that they need to adjust daily living to make way for the caregiving responsibilities they now have to their aging parents. It can also come sooner or later, depending on your aging parents’ general well-being.
Recognizing a change in the behavior patterns of your aging parents may help you decide when to provide assistance or arrange for long-term care. These changes could manifest in behaviors such as aging parents avoiding social engagements, having difficulty paying bills, forgetting about their medical appointments, neglecting personal hygiene, and more.
The more involved you are, the quicker you can spot the plea for help of your elderly parents, no matter how silent they are.
Guidance and Tips for Family Caregivers
Setting boundaries, doing your homework, and understanding the implications of what you’re getting into are essential before completely assuming this new role as a family caregiver of elderly patients who happens to be your elderly parents.
1. Talk about your own expectations and those of your aging parents
This will make it easier for adult children and aging parents to understand the role and the changes to come.
2. Be patient
This is a process, so you must be patient as the caretaker and an offspring of your elderly patients.
3. Practice compassion
Adult children taking the role of family caregivers must practice compassion – all the time. Obviously, many changes happen as parents age. They are dealing with health issues, daily living adjustments, and trying to function as usual in paying bills or getting medical care.
4. Make it easy for your aging parents
There will come a time when they will realize that they can no longer manage on their own. They will come to a point when they have to accept help from their loved ones. This can be challenging, especially when your parents are used to caring for themselves.
5. Accept the changes
For adult children, recognize that your elderly parents are no longer the same as they used to be.
6. Assure your aging parents
Assure them that you are on their side to support them and lend a hand to provide for their needs without imposing anything. Let them know that it’s okay for them to set boundaries.
7. Understand their needs
You must understand what each of your elderly parents needs. While caring for aging parents may be difficult, you can make it easier on your part by preparing for the dramatic changes to come.
8. Talk to your aging parents about their goals
Aside from their caregiving needs, you must also sit down with your aging parents about their goals. Guide them in making advanced directives or if they want their power of attorney if they are incapable of making their own decisions.
These discussions can be difficult, but understand that your aging parents have likely thought about it many times.
9. Get help
You can get help from professional geriatric care managers, aging life care professionals, or caregiver support groups to know what you need to do. Likewise, your elderly parents need to speak with lawyers, social workers, medical care experts, support groups in their local area or from a local area agency, and more.
10. Expose your aging parents to support groups
Your aging parents will benefit from talking to support groups and other professionals. On the other hand, you will learn more about caring for aging parents and the roles of adult children caregivers in assisting and looking after the well-being of your elderly parents.
11. Decide whether or not you can do it on your own
You can also choose whether you will do everything in caring for aging parents. It will all depend on your comfort levels and limitations.
For instance, you feel at ease assisting them with self-care, personal hygiene, toilet hygiene, making their living arrangements comfortable, being there in their social activities, preparing meals, and more. But you are not confident in overseeing the medical concerns of your aging parents.
12. Hire professional help when necessary
You can ask other caregivers or arrange for home nursing services if your elderly parents have chronic conditions, memory loss, and other health issues that require expert care.
The Physical Aspects of Being a Caregiver
Here are the most important factors that older adults, especially the children who will provide elder care for their aging parents, need to know more about:
As your parents age, they gradually lose even the skills they were once good at, such as handling their finances. It may feel overwhelming for them to do all related tasks regularly.
So you have to step up to the role of taking care of their finances. See to it that you check all their policies are updated, manage their medical appointments, and pay their bills.
You can also get in touch with an area agency to determine whether your parent is qualified for funding. Likewise, you can look into the respective government websites handling the following benefits for seniors:
- Benefits and checkup
- Area agency on aging
- Government benefits
Deciding where to provide care for an elderly parent is one of the first steps in the process. If the child is providing care, they may do it at their parents’ house or ask their parents to relocate.
A nursing home, assisted living facility, or independent living community are all excellent locations to look into if you’re seeking additional possibilities. You can ask for assistance from a social worker or your local area agency on aging if you need help navigating this challenging process.
Older adults must see their elderly parents have comfortable and safe living arrangements. Plan ahead and make the necessary changes and adjustments to make their homes risk-free.
Take note of the following points:
- Get an emergency contact service an aging parent can easily use whenever needed.
- Design the house or add things, so an aging parent doesn’t need to bend too much or rely on using stepstools.
- Have their appliances within reach and functional.
- Make the switches of lights accessible and change them into something brighter.
- Install grab bars along the stairs or into bathrooms for support.
- Ensure the common walkways are free from obstacles, such as rugs and cords.
Activities of Daily Living
Being involved in your parent’s daily activities allows you to assess their capacity to meet basic psychological and physical demands. These Activities of Daily Living include the following:
- Keeping their personal hygiene (shaving, brushing their teeth, combing hair, etc.)
- Showering or bathing
- Getting dressed
- Overall functionality and mobility (sitting down, getting in and out of bed, walking to the bathroom, etc.)
- Eating on their own
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living
Here are some of the aspects you have to focus on in the instrumental activities to make the life of your elderly parent convenient and comfortable:
- Reminding them to take prescription medications ( for memory loss, high blood pressure, overall health, etc.)
- Teaching them to communicate using gadgets and phones
- Paying bills before due
- Running errands (getting mail, shopping, etc.)
- Cooking their everyday meals
Caregiving for an Elderly Parent with Dementia or Alzheimer’s
If Alzheimer’s disease or dementia runs in your genes, the more you have to be involved in the daily life of your aging parent. This way, you can monitor their mental condition while ensuring they are always in good health.
It will also help to familiarize yourself with the following early indications leading to gradual memory loss or even worse:
- Mood swings
- Social withdrawal
- Poor decision-making skills
- Misplacing things frequently
- Difficulty in communicating
- Vision trouble
- Confusion about place and time
- Finding it difficult to complete tasks
- Asking questions repeatedly
- Forgetting about recently heard information
- Forgetting about their own health issues
Coping with Your Caregiving Duties to Your Aging Parent
Caring for aging parents gets more demanding over the days. You have to plan ahead on what to do before it affects your own health.
There is such a thing as caregiver burnout. You will know that you are at this point when the strain you get from all the caregiving responsibilities results in emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion.
According to data, up to 40 percent of caregivers suffer from depression. You must aim to find a balance between caring for aging parents, your own children, your own needs, social activities, and family life.
Your loved ones will understand when you ask for help at times, especially when the responsibilities feel overwhelming. Despite being a family member to your aging parents, you must also take a breather when needed and take time to take care of your well-being.
So before you experience burnout or a breakdown, practice the following caregiving essentials:
- Ask for help
- Keep yourself healthy and look after your own well-being
- Practice self-compassion and self-care
- Look for resources available or support groups to learn more about caregiving
Why Choose RC for Your Caregiving Need and Support?
Suppose you have exhausted all the support groups available, including a local area agency on aging, but are still struggling with your caregiving duties. In that case, you may want to talk to the pros.
We at RC Caregivers have years of experience. We’re here to guide older adults looking for caregiving tips or even guide them in hiring private nurses. Moreover, we can find the best elderly caregiver services for your parents if you think this would be the best option for them.