You will be responsible for meeting your parents’ needs as they grow older as an only child. Fixing things around the house, taking them to appointments, being available to talk, and any other needs that arise fall under this category. Although planning ahead of time can help you reduce stress, caring for your parents can still be a difficult task. Approach it with compassion and relish the opportunity to spend time with them.
Part 1 Making a Plan
1. Consider the future. It’s a good idea to start planning for your parents’ care long before they require it. This will allow you and your parents to mentally, emotionally, and financially prepare. Talk openly with your parents about their ageing, but do so with caution.
“I know you’re in good health and will be for a long time,” you might say to begin a conversation, “but have you considered what we’ll do as you get older?”
2. Pose difficult questions. Your parents may quickly reassure you that everything is fine. Accepting that you’re getting older is difficult for some people, and avoiding the subject is a common coping mechanism. Asking your parents specific questions will compel them to consider real-life issues that affect their children.
“Have you made a will?” is an example of a legal question.
You could inquire about your health by posing questions such as “When was the last time you went to the doctor? Were there any reservations?”
You should also inquire about your parents’ financial plans for the future.
3. Investigate community resources. Child caregivers and their parents have access to a variety of community service agencies. Many of these services might be covered by your parents’ health insurance. Adult day care centres, home health aides, home-delivered meals, transportation, skilled nursing, mental health support services, and financial advocacy and guidance services are some of the services that may be provided.
If your parent is a veteran, you may be eligible for home health care coverage, financial assistance, and home care services. Some of these services may be provided free of charge by the Veterans Administration, while others may require a co-payment. This is dependent on a number of factors, including your parents’ military discharge status, when they served, their financial situation, and whether or not they had any disabilities as a result of their service. To see if your parent is eligible, contact your local VA.
4. Assist your parents in making the necessary arrangements. Your parents might not know how to make the necessary arrangements. Creating a will and analysing finances are both difficult tasks. People are frequently deterred from completing those necessary tasks due to the difficulty.
Assist your parents with an online will or a budget analysis. Make an appointment with a lawyer or an accountant if you’re not sure how to do it.
Part 2 Caring Physically
1. Determine the level of care required. The type of care your parents require will vary depending on their age and health. Perhaps they only require assistance once or twice a month to move heavy items, or perhaps they require round-the-clock care. You will have to use your best judgement if your parent is unable to determine their needs.
For example, if your parents are physically active and mentally alert, they may only require minimal assistance from you.
You should consider more extensive care if your parents are forgetful and frequently leave the stove on or lock themselves out of the house. Hiring a home health aide, living with your parents, or having your parents live with you are all options.
2. Determine the types of care they require. Spend some time talking with your parents to figure out what kind of care they require. Make a list and go over it to see what you are and are not capable of doing by yourself.
Be honest with yourself about your abilities and the amount of time you can devote to assisting with caregiving. Anything you are unable to do should be delegated to a qualified caregiver chosen by your parents.
3. Seek assistance from others. You can’t do everything on your own or solve every problem. Family, friends, healthcare professionals, and community agencies will all be able to assist you. Attempting to do everything on your own will place all of the emotional burden on your shoulders, and you will quickly become exhausted. This will make providing quality care to your parents more difficult, if not impossible. As a result, it is critical to seek assistance whenever you require it.
Keep in mind that the people you ask for help will most likely be honoured and grateful.
Make sure your parents are included by asking them who they would like to seek assistance from.
Examine the list of needs you and your parents created to see what specific things they might require assistance with.
Be open to pointing out areas where you require additional assistance.
Make sure anyone you ask for assistance knows what will be most beneficial to you and your parents.
4. Give your parents your undivided attention. You should schedule physical visits with your parents at specific times. This will allow you to assist them around the house while also keeping a close eye on their health and self-sufficiency. It will also strengthen your relationship with your parents.
For instance, every other Sunday, go to your parents’ house for dinner.
Due to a long distance between you and your parents, this may not always be possible.
5. Set healthy boundaries for the amount of help you can give. You must take care of yourself in order to properly care for your parents. Allowing yourself time to relax, process information, and reenergize is essential. Allow yourself to go somewhere you enjoy, be alone at home, or simply see friends. This is especially important for an only child dealing with elderly parents.
6. Hire a personal assistant to help you at home. You may not be able to provide constant care for your parents for a variety of reasons. You may not have enough space for them to live with you, or you may be unable to do so due to family or other obligations. Even if you live in the same house as your parents, you may be required to work and be away from home for long periods of time. In this case, hiring in-home help could be a good option. Hiring someone to clean the house to hiring an in-home health care provider are all possibilities.
Part 3 Caring Emotionally
1. Make appointments with your parents for visits and phone calls. Maintaining contact with your parents is critical to maintaining a positive relationship. Your parents usually understand that you have a life and responsibilities of your own, but they still want to spend time with you. Giving them some of your time can help them feel safe and secure emotionally.
It’s a good rule of thumb to invite your parents over for family game night or to have dinners with them on a regular basis.
2. You’ll be living with your parents. Your parent(s) may require more assistance than can be provided by phone calls or occasional visits in some cases. If this describes your situation, you should consider making living arrangements that will allow you and your parent(s) to live together. The choices are easy to understand. You can either move into your parents’ home or they can move into yours.
This is frequently the case when one parent dies and the other parent is left alone.
3. Encouragement and patience are key. Your parents will face numerous frustrations as they grow older. This can include becoming physically less capable, confronting their mortality, and feeling as if the world has abandoned them. You’ll need to be patient and understand your parents’ difficulties. Make an effort to communicate with them on a regular basis and to be kind.
Never belittle your parents, especially if you’re talking about something they can’t do anymore, like driving.
Part 4 Caring Financially
1. Maintain your financial stability. If you want to help others financially, you must first keep your own finances in order. This entails keeping your job and prioritising your bills. You can use your extra cash to assist your parents in paying their bills.
2. Keeping track of how you spend your parents’ money is a good idea. Your parents may not require your financial assistance, but they may require your assistance in managing their finances. You should keep track of how your parents’ money is spent whenever you manage their finances. After each transaction, keep a copy of the receipts and file them.
This will help you avoid any misgivings or suspicions about how your parents’ money is spent.
3. With your parents, go over your finances. Even if your parents have trouble managing their finances, they have a right to know where their money goes. They should have a say in how the funds are spent as well. Each month, have a financial discussion with your parents to discuss what needs to be paid and how much money they will have to spend as they please. You should also make plans to gain access to things like your parents’ safe deposit box.
4. Set boundaries. You’ll need to set limits whether you’re spending your money to keep your parents afloat in their later years or simply giving them your time and energy. You have your own set of needs and desires in life, which are equally valid. Many people have their own families or work in fields that they are passionate about. While it is acceptable to devote time and resources to your parents, you must establish and maintain clear boundaries.
You may decide, for example, to pay your parents’ electric bill but not to pay for an extended cable package.
Part 5 Coping with Aging Parents
1. Expect the worst. It’s possible that your parents will be unappreciative of your efforts to look after them. This is especially true for parents who are suffering from dementia. It’s difficult (if not impossible) for parents to recognise and appreciate what you’re doing for them because of the stress of getting older and needing care, as well as the neurological changes that occur with dementia.
Even if your parents don’t appreciate your efforts, it’s critical that you acknowledge and appreciate your own.
2. Remember why you’re looking after your parent. If you are caring for an ageing parent, it is most likely because you love or care about them. Remember this when things get tough. You should be proud of yourself for deciding to take on the responsibility of making the rest of their lives as good as they can be.
3. Make self-care a priority in your life. You may forget to look after yourself as you become engrossed in helping your parents. This can lead to burnout and a sense of being cut off from the rest of the world. Keep an eye out for signs that you’re becoming overwhelmed or stressed, and then deal with your negative feelings. Talking to someone is one way you can take care of yourself. Talking to a friend or a therapist can help you relieve stress and gain a better understanding of your emotions, feelings, and situations.
Journaling. When you write things down, you have the opportunity to reflect on situations that are bothering you. You may gain better insight and identify solutions to issues that you were unable to identify previously while writing.
Creating a daily routine. Set aside anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes each day for yourself. Use this time to pray, meditate, practise yoga, deepen your breathing, go for a walk in the woods, or do something else meaningful to you.
Getting involved in a support group. You could join your church, a social club, or another group in your community. The stronger your social support network becomes, the better off you will be.
4. Pause for a moment. You’ll need to take a break now and then. You need some “me time,” whether it’s to see a movie, sneak away for a vacation, or simply walk around the block. Keep in mind that this isn’t about being selfish or self-serving. It is critical that you maintain your sanity in order to continue caring for your elderly parent (s).
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