Caring for an Aging Parent: How Family Members Can Cope With Stress

december-2016-blog-post-imageMany children have fond memories of their parents from years of childhood and early adult hood, but as parents become elderly and often ill, the burden of caring for aging parents can be increasingly difficult. If you are integral in the plan to care for your parent, there are some coping mechanisms you can use to stay healthy both mentally and physically. Caring for your own needs and the needs of other family members is essential for your happiness and health.

Rely on Professional Help

Often, children cannot move their parent into a permanent care facility because it is not a good fit for the parent or the rest of the family. However, the entire burden of in-home care should never rest on family members alone. Some elderly persons have extensive needs, and meeting them all while also meeting the obligations of adulthood can be too challenging for a single person, or even group of persons, to handle.

Reach out to a professional in-home care agency to help. You can have a home health aid to assist with:

  • Bathing
  • Meal preparation
  • Exercise routines
  • Dressing
  • Basic medical needs
  • Communication
  • Physical therapy
  • Emotional support

Even part time in-home help will remove the stress of the burden from family members. Choose the tasks that are the most challenging for you to fulfill and hand those over to the trained home health aid. This way, you can better enjoy the time you spend with your aging parent.

Resolve Family Conflicts

Unfortunately, the emotional pain that comes from the caring for an elderly parent can affect other family members in unique ways. Children may argue over the best care procedures, and you may end up feeling like you’re constantly at war with other members of the family who bring their baggage and financial expectations to the table.

If you are primarily responsible for overseeing care, hold a family meeting where all concerns are addressed, with the understanding that after the meeting is over, you won’t be able to discuss any concerns further.

Take Time for Personal Care

A key factor in reducing stress is taking the time to engage in normal, stress-relieving activities. Daily exercise will help you cope with the emotional turmoil of caring for a parent. If you feel you don’t have time for exercise, just allow yourself 15 minutes each day to walk while breathing deeply.

Choose healthful foods to boost your immune system-if you get sick, you’ll feel more overwhelmed. Get adequate sleep, and try to refrain from getting stuck in a caffeine-stress cycle. Relying on caffeine as a stimulant reduces your sleep quality and increases your blood pressure. Making the healthful choices for yourself will put you in a better position to care for your parent.

Learn as Much as You Can

Knowledge is power, and learning as much as possible about your parent’s conditions and needs will help empower you. As you learn more about the medical problems they might be facing, you can comfort yourself that you are doing all that you can do. Many children may feel powerless or guilty when their parent is suffering. Learning about the prognosis of medical conditions, warning signs for progressing disease, and side effects of medications can help you catch a crisis early.

Your knowledge will also help you to stop “sweating the small stuff.” For example, you might worry needlessly about your parent missing a dose of medication, when a single missed dose is not always serious. You’ll know where to focus the majority of your energy if you learn which things are most important for your parent’s care.

For more information about home health care and support available for families, contact us at Queen City Home Care.