The Challenge of Caregiving for Aging Parents
If you already have experience caring for one parent, you understand the coordination involved in providing them with the best care. Caregiving for two parents means learning new time management, organization, and coping skills to help everyone involved live as comfortably as possible.
Caregiving for one or even both parents can result in challenges for your personal relationships and health, on top of the fears you have for making sure your parents are getting everything they need. Setting aside some time to consider your own limitations and establish schedules with family members can help ease the stress and give you greater peace of mind.
Here are some tips on getting organized and distributing tasks so you can feel supported as you take on the new responsibilities of caregiving for aging parents.
How to make the most of your time
Caring for two parents brings unique challenges, from managing differing personalities, to medical histories. It requires more coordination, especially if one or both parents struggle with memory loss. Accepting that you will need a lot of support might be difficult, but knowing you have the help and resources available to you will be a comfort.
Setting aside time to review your situation is essential to achieving the organization and support you need. Make lists of of the tasks, responsibilities, and needs for both you and your parents, including:
- Care items
- Time for fun
- Social activities
Know your strengths and limitations
Evaluate what you know you’re best at, what you can make work, and what you feel is too much for you. Having a way to look at all of the responsibilities and tasks can help you feel more in control and ready to make a care plan.
Once you have your plan, meet with family to see what others are willing and able to do. Anything outside of your limitations then can be discussed, including hiring help for household maintenance services, transportation, and modifying the home to make daily activities more accessible.
Family members who live out of town can help with tasks such as researching medications or health issues, paying bills, keeping other family members updated, or arranging for other professional services.
If you and your family need more support, home health and nursing aides, or other professional caregivers, might be an option. They can provide services such as bathing, dressing, and preparing meals, for a few hours a day or even full-time care. Occupational therapists, social workers, or nurses can be hired as well, and some services could be covered by insurance.
If managing these services yourself becomes overwhelming, assisted living can provide benefits such as these, along with around-the-clock care for your parents.
How to create your support team
Distribute daily tasks
With your lists of what is needed and your support group in place, distribute the tasks accordingly and brainstorm ways to make those tasks simpler. Does your local grocery store deliver? Does your son or niece have a car and some free time where they can run errands?
Meet in person, via FaceTime or Zoom with family, or communicate in whatever way works best for them. Email or calendar apps can also be helpful and provide a way to look back on decisions that were made in writing.
Social time should also be included in task distribution. Encourage your siblings, children, and nieces and nephews to plan times when they can call or visit your parents. This could be the best way for family members living out of state to contribute and be involved in your parents’ care as well.
Don’t be afraid to say no when necessary, and allow others to do the same. We all need to be aware of our limits and what is possible. If everyone is given the freedom to do so, it will create a healthier environment.
Set aside your own family time
When your schedule is packed with work and caregiving, it sometimes feels necessary to set aside the less urgent needs of your spouse, children, and friends. While prioritizing care is important, spending time with your family is beneficial for everyone.
Just like you have schedules for the care of your parents, create schedules for down time with family and friends. Even if all you can squeeze in is a quick walk around the block or a monthly pizza night, it gives everyone something to look forward to and make that time meaningful.
A phone call with a friend also can boost your spirits and connect you to those other parts of yourself you might not have been able to enjoy in a while.
Finding personal ways to relieve stress
What each of us finds relaxing and soothing is personal and unique. Many people find venting in a journal to be helpful, while some people just need a couple moments alone to breathe and reset. Sometimes taking a drive or listening to music can bring peace.
When you’re caring for two parents, it’s easy to stay in caregiver mode and always put others above your own needs, simply because you don’t feel like there’s enough time in the day. But your health is just as important. You can’t be your best for others if you’re exhausted and constantly stretched beyond your means.
Taking small moments to check in with our own health means you can take stock of how you are actually feeling, and make daily changes to feel better.
Reach out for help
Help for caregivers can come step-by-step, making the transition much smoother for both you and your parents. Start by clicking through our Kensington Konnect page to access fun and informative resources, including articles, how-to videos, online classes, concerts, and more.
If you’re ready to start researching an assisted living community, we are here for you. Our promise at The Kensington White Plains is to love and care for your family as we do our own. It can certainly be a difficult decision to make, but you can rest assured that when it is time, you will have our full support.
Not only is a primary care manager assigned to each resident, ensuring each person is feeling comfortable and happy, but we also go above and beyond to provide a fun, social environment for your parents to thrive.
These are just a few of the excellent services we provide for your family. Reach out to us today to learn more about your options with our team.