Caring for an elderly relative, whether that’s a parent or a grandparent, can be draining and stressful. With some simple tips though, you can make elder care easier on you and on them.
- Take care of yourself too. It can be easy to forget to look after yourself when you’re focused on looking after someone else. But remember you can’t be an effective carer if you aren’t taking care of number one. You. Give yourself a break and put your own health first.
- Make plans. It’s important to have a plan in case you need to respond to unexpected mishaps. You need to arrange some legal rights, in case you need to access a parent’s bank account or make decisions about their medical treatment. Arrange this before you need it to reduce stress if you ever need to use it.
- Call in the cavalry. Don’t try and take on their care all by yourself. Can other relatives take it in turns with you to visit or bring in meals? Does your relative have trustworthy neighbors they like? You could give them your contact details so they know who to call if there’s an emergency. If your elderly loved one has specific needs, you may need to call in professional help, such as a caregiver. These individuals will be able to meet all of your loved one’s needs and ensure they’re getting the best care they can possibly provide!
- Learn some first aid. Take a basic first aid, or learn some basics online. Good skills would be recognizing symptoms of conditions like a heart attack or a stroke. Learn how to put a person in the recovery position, and how to treat minor falls or burns. You could also learn about things like self-catheterization in case you need to care for a relative after a hospital stay.
- Let go of guilt. If you’re spending a lot of time as a carer, remember it’s normal to sometimes feel stressed, frustrated, or even just plain bored. Don’t feel guilty for these totally normal reactions. Instead, find ways to alleviate the problem, whether it’s finding someone to talk to about your frustrations or dividing some of your caring duties between other people.
- Check what you’re entitled to. If you’ve given up work to care for a relative, you may be entitled to some kind of carer’s benefit to help fund you. Make sure you check so you don’t go short.
- Talk about it. Join a local carer’s group or an online forum for carers so you can talk about your worries or frustrations with somebody who understands what you’re dealing with. Having this support network can really help you stay sane at the toughest parts of eldercare.
- Have patience. An elder needing to be cared for, especially by their child, may find the loss of independence stressful and upsetting, so try and have patience with them if they’re angry, distressed, or sometimes even ungrateful. Their life has changed too, and they will need time to adjust.
- Maintain their independence. Help your relatives to feel some control over their own lives. If they’re capable of it, let them make decisions about their own care. If they’re less capable, let them make decisions they are able to make, whether it’s as simple as what meals to have or more complex like helping to choose adjustments to their home to make it easier for them to live in.