Caring For Aging Parents
We hear in the news about Senior abuse and it makes us very sad but caring for an aging parent can be extremely stressful and exhausting. Here are some thoughts that I have found helpful to keep the atmosphere sweet between you and your parent.
1. Remember every day that the strong person you used to lean on is pretty much gone and this person with their face is far more needy and sometimes very clingy.
2. Remember to take care of yourself. If you break down emotionally or in health you will not be any help to your loved one. So, give yourself time breaks, sleep breaks, focus breaks. Stop and breathe in a crisis. It will settle you. Finding a helper for even a few hours a day can be what it takes to keep you healthy and able to give care. Medicare, friends and churches are resources.
3. If you had a hard time saying no to your children or pets you will have a hard time saying no to a clingy parent. So, look to the long-term need, not the short-term demand and lovingly promise you’ll be back or some other treat to come then do what is right to do for their ultimate benefit. It takes a lot of growing up on our part to do this but it is very important over the long haul.
4. Don’t look for the problem to be over. Set yourself only for today. Hope can be lost if you look to the future. You may panic feeling that you can’t do this “anymore” or for “the rest of your life”. You only have today. You women who have birthed children know you ride the wave of each individual contraction only. And when it is over and the child has arrived you forget the pain. Caring for our aging parent is like that. When they are gone you will only remember the sweet times of your life with them.
5. Assure them that you will fight for as much independence for them as possible. Tell them you will only agree to the loss of independence like driving a car or living alone in their house if it is absolutely necessary. Ask them if they believe you and trust you. You may need to remind them of this at times. Make sure you carefully look at all options for them to keep their independence before assuming they have to lose it.
6. When with them ask them to tell you stories about their life. The past is remembered best at this stage of life and you may learn things about them that you never knew. This may help you keep honoring and admiring them even in this difficult time of life.
7. Tell them frequently how proud you are of them for their life accomplishments. Tell them how proud you are of how bravely they are facing losses that come in old age. Sympathize with how that must feel. Let them express themselves about this. Show them why their life is still useful and valuable even in this time of weakness. Everyone needs hope and value as long as we breathe.
8. You are being a living example to the younger generation of love, patience, longsuffering, balance and joy in testing times. These will be the ones who care for you in your old age so be a good example. I’ve already apologized to my kids for what I’ll be like as an old lady. May God give them a lot of grace!