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By Mike Clark
When it comes to caring for your aging parents, there is no magic formula or guide to refer to that can help you through this overwhelming time. Believe it or not, there are millions of other people in the exact same situation that you find yourself in. I know that does not help you by simply knowing that others are going through the same thing you are, but I do know this: You can’t be a good caregiver if you’re not taking care of yourself. Asking for help is not a weakness or something to feel guilty about, it is simply what you must do when things get overwhelming.
When you are put into the role of caregiver for an aging parent, there will be challenges. There will be stress. There will be complex situations. There will be decisions that need to be made that you are not ready to make. This makes it even more important to take care of yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup, the healthier you are mentally and physically, the better care you can give your parent.
Are you struggling with chronic stress?
One of the most common things caregivers experience is chronic stress. The stress is typically caused by juggling care for your aging parents and your personal responsibilities. If you are also working a full-time job on top of caring for an aging parent then this adds even more stress to the situation. Trying to tackle caring for an elderly parent, caring for your family, and many other daily tasks that come along with life can quickly start to feel overwhelming. There are simply not enough hours in the day for one person to do it all. This is a very common situation for caregivers, and so are the feelings that come with them.
Do you feel guilty all the time?
Do you feel guilty while caring for your aging parents? This is very common when thrust into the role as caregiver that continues to take up more and more of your time. When you leave, you feel guilty for not staying longer, when you are there, you feel guilty about not being with your family. It’s a cycle that makes you feel like there is no solution. You may even have thoughts that you are not proud of, and that’s okay. When you have these feelings, know that it is ok to seek professional help or talk about your feelings with friends and other family members.
The roles have reversed.
They have always been the parent and you have always been the child, now the role has reversed. This is a shocking situation for most of us. You have always been the person cared for by your parents and now you are the one that is caring for them. This is a life-changing experience, especially if the parent pushes back and is unable to process the role reversal. You are now the one enforcing the rules instead of following them. Most of the time this does not sit well with the parent. Working with a third party or hiring a professional caregiver can sometimes be just what is needed to smooth the transition. The third-party can help navigate the unwillingness of the parent to follow the rules.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Are you making rest a priority? A common side-effect of chronic stress to not get enough rest. Your sleep patterns change, you may experience insomnia and become restless during sleep time. If you have these changes in sleep patterns, you need to talk to your doctor for therapeutic options. Getting enough sleep can help reduce the stress that caring for aging parents can cause.
Do you have any relief from stress?
When stress is beginning to take its toll on you, get help fast. Seek help from a professional, seek counseling, and get respite. Sometimes all it takes to get you back on track is to just get away from the situation for a couple of hours or a couple of days. Make sure you are setting proper boundaries and dedicating time for yourself.
Set up a routine for yourself to monitor your stress levels as well as things that will help you reduce stress. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthily and keep yourself fit. Set up an exercise routine or do some yoga, whatever it takes to help you have some personal time. You can do some of these things while you are caring for your parent, even involving them in some of your stress relievers. You can read to them and therefore enjoy a good book for yourself. Be creative and remember it’s ok to ask for help.
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Dwell at Home is not a licensed medical professional and all information provided is provided “as is” with no warranties. You should consult a licensed physician for any questions related to your health. Dwell at Home makes no guarantee about any application or third-party website mentioned in any article on this website.