It’s not uncommon for parents to move in with their adult children as they get older. This type of living arrangement can have a lot of advantages, such as allowing the family to spend more time together. However, as a caregiver, such an arrangement can put a strain on you, especially if your parents have medical needs. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make this type of living situation as stress-free as possible.
Part 1 Dealing Emotionally
1. Set ground rules concerning how you and your parents will live together. You’ll need to create a new family dynamic in your household that acknowledges your new living arrangement without treating your parents as house guests. Set rules regarding daily household activities that will need to be adjusted under the new arrangements, such as eating dinner together, spending time out of the house, or watching television.
For example, your schedule may not accommodate being able to sit down to dinner every night, while your parents may want to have meals together as a family each night. In this type of situation, you’ll need to set rules regarding how often your family eats meals together versus on their own and stick to them once they’re set.
Be prepared to adjust the rules as necessary if your parents are facing an illness that may get worse over time.
2. Allow yourself to prioritise yourself from time to time. You can’t be a good caregiver unless you’re taking care of yourself. Keep an eye on your own mental and emotional well-being, and seek help from others if caregiving becomes too much for you.
Make sure you’re eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep each night to maintain your physical health.
Remember that your parents would most likely want you to focus on yourself and your own needs above all else.
At ageing resource centres, look for support groups. These groups can provide support as well as resources and ideas to make caregiving more manageable.
3. If your parent has dementia, don’t expect gratitude or praise. If one or both of your parents have dementia, they may be unaware of everything you’re doing to care for them, making your efforts go unnoticed. Recognize that this isn’t a reflection on you personally, but rather a symptom of their condition, and don’t let it demoralise you.
4. To avoid burnout, take a break when you need it. Being a caregiver for elderly parents is a marathon, not a sprint, in the end. Keep an eye on your own feelings and take a break from caregiving when it becomes too much for you to handle.
Insomnia, irritability, apathy, a change in appetite, and feelings of guilt are all signs that you’re on the verge of a burnout.
When you need a break from caring for your loved one, consider putting them in a senior living community for a few days. If you don’t want them to leave the house, ask a friend or family member to take over your responsibilities while you go relax.
Part 2 Establishing a Care Network
1. Recognize your limitations and where you may require assistance from others. Taking care of elderly parents often takes a toll on the children who are responsible for them. When it comes to caring for your parents, no matter how good you think of yourself, you’re bound to run into your own limitations. If this happens, accept that there are some things you can’t do on your own and take steps to get the assistance you require.
For example, you might find it difficult to assist your parents in bathing and dressing themselves. It’s natural to feel this way, but you’ll eventually need to find a way to have someone else assist your parents.
2. Make a list of friends and family members to whom you can turn for assistance when you need it. When you’re on the verge of burning out, you’ll need to be able to call on someone to temporarily take over your caregiving duties so you can relax. Talk to your friends and family to see who might be willing to assist you when you need some alone time.
Once you’ve identified people you can call for assistance, save their phone numbers in your phone so you can dial them whenever you need to.
When asking friends and family for help caring for your parents, be open and honest about what that entails. If they believe you misled them about what they would have to do to help you, they may become enraged and resentful.
3. Hire a certified nursing assistant who is capable of dealing with medical issues. If your elderly parent is ill and experiencing symptoms or limitations that you’re not qualified to deal with, you need to find a medical professional who can. Medically trained home health aides can be hired through home health agencies or as freelancers.
Although there are many different kinds of home health care aides, only those with medical training and licencing are qualified to help you with your parents’ medical needs.
4. Seek legal advice to help you sort out your parents’ affairs. When you start caring for your elderly parents, you may discover that they have unresolved financial issues or important documents (such as wills) that need to be organised. To get the best professional help in dealing with the legal issues surrounding caregiving, hire an elder law attorney.
Look into financial assistance from Medicare or Medicaid to help you get medical equipment or “adult babysitting” services in your home.
Elder law attorneys can also assist you in navigating medical laws and may be able to help you take advantage of state-sponsored assistance programmes.
You may need power of attorney to manage your parents’ affairs in some cases. An elder law attorney can assist you in obtaining power of attorney status if your parents are no longer considered competent.
Before your parents move in with you, check your state’s requirements for any paperwork or documentation that needs to be completed. Medical orders, advance directives, and living wills are examples of these documents.
Part 3 Attending to your Parents’ Needs
1. Foods that meet their dietary requirements should be stored and prepared. Your parents may be required to eat or avoid certain foods as they age as a result of a chronic illness, or they may simply be physically incapable of cooking and eating for themselves. Make sure you can provide for your parents in these situations by cooking healthy meals for them and feeding them if necessary.
If one or both of your parents have a medical condition that requires them to follow a strict diet, consult their primary care physician to find out what dishes or meals they should (or should not) eat in your home.
If there’s a food that neither of your parents should eat, don’t buy it or keep it in your house.
2. If your parents have mobility issues, make your home more accessible. To make it easier for your parents to get around, you may need to invest in accessories or improvements to your home, such as a stair lift or reachers.
Dressing aids, uplift seats, and in-bed bathing systems are some other devices that may be useful for people with mobility issues.
Check with ageing communities or Medicare/Medicaid for financial assistance programmes.
Hearing aids for those with partial hearing, arthritis aids, chair cushions, and electronic alert systems are just a few examples of technological devices that can assist your parents with a variety of potential limitations.
3. Assist your parents with daily activities if they require it. Beyond addressing medical needs, your primary goal as a caregiver for your elderly parents will be to assist them in performing activities of daily living, also known as ADLs (ADLs). Self-feeding, bathing, mobility, and personal hygiene are examples of these skills.
Shopping, managing money, and taking prescribed medications are examples of ADLs that are less important but that you may need to assist your parents with.
Assisting your parents with ADLs ensures not only their physical health, but also their emotional well-being and ability to live independently.
4. Check to see if you or your parents are eligible for any government assistance. The government offers a variety of benefits and financial assistance to caregivers and those in need of care. Investigate government websites to see if you or your parents are eligible for such benefits.
If you live in the United States, benefits.gov is the best place to look for such benefits.
5. When you require professional assistance, ask for it. When it comes to caring for your parents, you may reach a point where you can no longer provide everything they require. At that point, contact a professional caregiver or a home health care aide for assistance.
Even if you believe it is your responsibility to care for your parents because they are your parents, you must seek professional assistance if you require it. Keep in mind that your parents’ health is far more important than your own.
It’s worth noting that your parents may initially object to having a professional caregiver care for them. You may have to persuade them to accept outside assistance.
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