Being a caregiver for our senior parents is often very frustrating. They can’t do many things on their own, and it’s difficult for them to handle the day-to-day tasks of life. It’s not always easy being there for them, but we have a chance to make things easier if we follow some simple advice. Here are six pieces of advice that will help you take care of your senior parents!
1. Recognize when they need assistance
Your senior parents may be able to do something one time but struggle with it another time. This doesn’t mean that they’re getting worse or weaker, just that their body needs different types of support at different times. Be mindful about what activities might be too difficult for them, and offer help without being asked. When you come to a point where you think it may be appropriate to offer assistance, check in with them first and ask if they need any help. There’s no need to risk hurting them with an action you thought was helpful but later found out wasn’t needed!
2. Get help with housework
As our parents age, they have a hard time keeping up with the demands of daily life. It’s okay if they can’t vacuum or dust every day – that doesn’t mean that they’re useless or don’t care about their house. Instead, try helping them with some of these tasks when you visit, as it will save them time and give you something to do together. But that only works if they are healthy and mobile on their own. Do not be embarrassed to hire assistance if you feel you need it. It’s extremely beneficial to find someone local, so googling “in-home care help” will give you the best chances of finding someone in your proximity. That way, if a situation arises where you need help as soon as possible, your professional caregiver will be close by and will be able to arrive quickly in times of need.
3. Trust their feelings
Oftentimes, our senior parents are more sensitive to how they feel than we are. If they’re feeling ill, try not to ignore it or tell them that it’s nothing. Take them to the doctor and make sure you listen to what the doctor tells you. Always take your parent’s feelings into consideration – they know their body better than you do. Some people might try to convince you to go against their wishes, but as a caregiver, it’s important to trust the feelings of the senior parents because they know what’s best for themselves, as long as they are lucid. They’re not always going to be lucid and up-to-date on what could happen if they don’t get treatment, and that is where your discretion also becomes your big responsibility. Prime examples include when they refuse to take their medication or when they refuse to go in for a checkup. The senior parents know that there’s risk involved and still want to do what is necessary for their health, so we need to respect their wishes and follow through with whatever it is that they ask of you.
4. Make sure they eat well
Treating your parents to nutritious food will help them stay healthy and happy. For instance, cancer patients who eat a lot of soy intake lower rates of cancer recurrence. This is because soy products are high in isoflavones which helps with the immune system. Many different foods have different benefits on our health, and doing additional research based on the needs of your parents can make it a lot easier for you to take care of them properly. Seniors tend to lose their appetites, which can lead to malnutrition. As a caregiver, it’s your responsibility to make sure that they are eating healthy meals and snacks throughout the day. Try not to rely on them for information about what food is in the house – instead, stock up on healthy snacks that they can eat at their leisure.
5. Be conscious of their hearing
As people age, they become more sensitive to loud noises and crowded areas. Try not to be too boisterous around your senior parent, instead, keep the noise level down as much as possible. If you want them to hear you, try sitting closer to them and speaking at a lower volume.
6. Let them be themselves
As a caregiver, it’s important to let your senior parents do what they want when they want to. This doesn’t mean you should do nothing and just sit there while your parent does whatever it is that they desire. Instead, try engaging them in conversation or giving them a back rub, or watching TV with them. In general, don’t do anything for them unless you’re asked. It’s also wise not to nag about certain tasks because senior parents can see through these actions and become even more stubborn about the things that they refuse to do. Remember that your senior parents are still adults! They know what they like and don’t like, so allow them to make their own choices about things. Don’t force them to go outside if they don’t want to, or say things that are hurtful. Spend time with them and talk about their lives, not yours.
Some of the most difficult tasks as a caregiver are trying to make sure that our senior parents eat well, get enough rest, and stay healthy. But it’s worth it! It can be hard to know what they need sometimes, especially when we’ve never been in their shoes before – but here are some insider tips you might not be aware of for taking care of your senior parents.