Self-Care for the Caregiver of Aging Parents

Self-Care for the Caregiver of Aging Parents

It’s difficult watching a parent age. Not too long ago, it seems, you depended on them for everything. Now they may struggle with getting dressed, preparing meals, and managing their medications. You’re committed to helping them navigate these challenges, but with your own responsibilities at work and home, you find yourself feeling overwhelmed. You’ve probably heard that the best way to take care of others is to make sure you’re also taking care of yourself. But how?

Prioritize

A perfectly clean house would be nice. So would the perfect party for your daughter’s high school graduation. But the truth of the matter is that when it comes to staying sane, something has to give. Maybe you need to let the dishes pile up for a night while you veg in front of your favorite show (better yet, use paper plates a couple nights a week). Maybe Dad will get one less bath this week so you can go to your son’s choir concert and get the sleep you need. By making a list every day of the things that absolutely need to get done, the things that would be nice to get done, and things to address later, you can give yourself permission to make space for what matters most and let other things be for a while.


Build In Time for You

One of those things that absolutely needs to get done? Time for yourself. It’s not selfish to build in this time; in fact, it is very much the opposite. By preventing burnout, you’ll be able to continue to care for your aging parent with patience, compassion, and a clear head. Consider how you can make time for the following types of self care. Even 15 minutes of “you time” a few times a week can make a difference with your physical and mental health. More about respite care below.

  • Exercise
  • Prayer/meditation
  • Time outside
  • Hobbies: gardening, reading, music, crafts, games
  • Coffee dates with friends (or yourself)
  • Beauty care: hair, nails, massage, warm baths
  • Naps
  • Church activities
  • Artistic activities, such as concerts, plays, and trips to the art museum

Combine Generations

Many caregivers feel sandwiched between the generations, with parents, children, and even grandchildren vying for time and attention. When a parent needs to be driven to a doctor’s appointment, and a kid needs to be picked up from college, and a grandchild needs to be watched, what do you do to keep it all straight?

It’s okay to allow the different generations to overlap. Sometimes your child may have to accompany you to an appointment with your mother. That’s fine! Bring a fun game or magazine for the waiting room that the two of them can enjoy together. If your parent is healthy enough, bring them to the track meet for an event or two. Allowing these activities to blend and merge will not only help you sustain a schedule; it will bring your family together.


Get Counseling


Taking care of aging parents can bring up a lot of emotions: grief, guilt, resentment, and lack of confidence. If you already deal with depression or anxiety, the physical and emotional stress of caregiving may make you feel like you’re “going over the edge.”  Seeing a counselor to help you process your emotions and reactions to life’s stresses can give you the strength and wisdom to keep going, ready to face the challenges ahead.

 

Take Advantage of Respite Care

Respite care is a short-term stay at an assisted living community designed to give the primary caregiver a break. It can also be used as a "trial run" to see if your loved one will like the facility prior to committing to moving in. Respite care rooms at Danbury Senior Living are fully furnished studio apartments with a per day price and no minimum stay. Your loved one will enjoy all of the amenities and services Danbury provides while they stay, providing you with the peace of mind to break away for a short time and reenergize.


Know When to Say When

If you’re reaching a point where even the most balanced of schedules leaves you feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to consider receiving additional care for your parent, whether in the form of in-home care, assisted living, or memory care. When reviewing your options, remember that you’re not failing or giving up–you’re transitioning to the best form of care for everyone involved, always with your parent’s best interests in mind.

If you’d like to talk through the challenges you’re facing with managing the care of your loved one, we’d be happy to help you find the path that is right for your family where you’re at today. Schedule a tour of a location near you or contact us today to begin the conversation.
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