5 Tips For Caring For An Aging Parent

This is a subject that some people may or may not be able to relate to.  I found this information online and thought I would share it since it has helped my siblings and me so much as we all do our part to care for our mother.

Last September, our mother had surgery to repair an obstruction she had.  Mother was 90 years young at the time of her surgery and her physician advised us from the start that it would be a big surgery for her and at her age, he was concerned.  It was something that had to be done, but we also knew that she could have some complications. There are 6 girls and one boy. There were 7 girls and two boys, but we lost a brother three days before his first birthday back in 1967 and lost a sister from a massive stroke back in 2001. We are a strong family, our mother is a strong woman, and always has been.  We leaned on our faith and asked God to bring her through the surgery and guide the hands of the surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurses, and other hospital staff involved.  On the day of the surgery, we were all nervous but praying that there would be no complications with her surgery.  Due to Covid, only two of my sisters were able to be at the hospital, which worked out fine because at that time Mother was living in the city in which they lived as well. For the rest of our lives in other cities, we were keeping in contact via telephone.

The surgery was a success and we cried and thanked God for bringing her through, and for the next two weeks, we were all taking shifts staying with her.  Only one person could spend the night with her, so someone would stay over-night and go home in the morning, while another would relieve them and so on.  Once she was released from the hospital, she was transferred to a rehabilitation center for further care and therapy to assure she was able to get out of bed, walk and do the things she was doing before having surgery.  It was difficult at first, and I mean, it was no peaches and cream because she didn’t want to get out of bed and walk with the therapist, and had no problem letting him know she didn’t. After a couple of days, she started participating and getting out of bed to walk, take her showers with assistance, as well as her other daily care.

Once released from the rehabilitation center, my youngest sister and her husband invited her to come live with them in Frisco, Texas, and that is where she is now.  She has her own room, the house is large enough for her to get through the doorways with no problems, she has her own bathroom, but the best thing is, she is with family and we are all doing our part to keep her home with a family who loves her and surrounds her with love, laughter, hugs, and all the things we can do to show her how much we love and are so happy to be able to care for her ourselves.  Her short-term memory is not as sharp as it used to be, but her long-term memory is sharp. She remembers things from back when she was a young girl, and as she talks about it, we record her talking so we will have her voice and stories for years to come.  She turned 91 in December, and we cherish each and every day we have with her.  I ran across these 5 tips below and after reading them thought they were informative, so I wanted to post them and, also write a little bit about what my family is going through right now as we care for our mother.  We are so thankful and grateful that she is doing well and can stand, walk away from her wheelchair, brush her teeth, dress, and undress on her own.  We still assist her with her showers, but I can not tell you how blessed we are to have our sweet mother.

How to care for seniors at home for as long as possible.

People often say “I promised her I’d never put her in a nursing home.” or, “Dad told me he never wanted to live in one of those places.”

For a variety of reasons, caregivers may choose to care for their older adults at home. And as long as the situation is safe for everyone involved, keeping aging parents at home is a wonderful thing to do.

But it’s important to remember that senior care is one of the toughest and most stressful jobs you’ll ever have. That’s why caregivers are at such high risk for burnout and serious health conditions.

So if you’re caring for your older adult at home, it’s essential to pace yourself. That means you can’t be running at 110% every day. We’re human and that’s simply not sustainable over the long run.

Pacing yourself and getting assistance helps you stay as healthy as possible so you can continue providing great care.

To help you keep going over the long term, we share 5 tips for keeping aging parents at home for as long as possible by reducing the caregiving workload and decreasing stress.




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1. Understand how much care is needed

In caregiving, many of us fall into a state where we “can’t see the forest for the trees.” 

When you’re overwhelmed with a long list of caregiving To-Dos, you’re so focused on the tasks that you’re not seeing the overall picture.

The first step is to find out how much care your older adult really needs. 

Creating a list of daily, weekly, and monthly care tasks helps you understand how much help is needed during the day, at night, and on weekends. You’ll realize how much supervision is needed and at which times of the day.

An easy way to make a comprehensive list is to set a notepad out and make quick notes every time you or someone else helps your older adult with something. After a week, you’ll have a good overview of what your senior needs help with and at what times of the day.

To make sure everything is captured, keep the note-taking going longer to see if there’s anything that happens once or twice a month that you don’t want to forget.

2. Be realistic about how much care you can provide without harming your own health.

Now that you know what your older adult’s care needs are, you can figure out if that’s something you can handle without help. 

Or maybe looking over the list helps you realize that you definitely need help with a variety of tasks.

In your evaluation, think carefully about how much care you can realistically provide without harming your own health. 

Keep in mind that if you take on too much, you will eventually burn out or develop a serious health condition – ultimately leaving you unable to care for anyone.

Instead, be as proactive as you can and find ways to get the help you need to keep up your health and keep going as a caregiver.




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3. Get help with caregiving

Even though it might seem like finding caregiving help takes too much time and effort, remember that it’s an investment that will pay off in the future. 

Finding help takes patience, effort, and creative thinking, but it will be worth it when you’re able to decrease your workload, reduce stress, and take regular breaks.

To help you spot more opportunities for getting help, keep an open mind and be flexible. And be sure to use the list of needs you wrote down to remind you of the types of help you need.

Ideas include:

  • Enroll your older adult in an adult day program – socialization and care for them, much-needed rest for you
  • Hire in-home caregiving help to get regular breaks
  • Find a volunteer senior companion program in your area
  • Use a respite care service to get a longer break
  • Sign up for a meal delivery service or Meals on Wheels to reduce the number of meals you need to make
  • Ask family or close friends to help run errands, do some light housekeeping, or prepare some meals
  • Buy caregiving and household supplies in bulk or better yet, order online for home delivery. Basically, eliminate as many errands as possible to save time and energy.

 

4. Share the caregiving responsibility

You might be doing such an amazing job that nobody thinks you need any help caring for your older adult. 

So even if you feel like you shouldn’t have to say it, ask siblings or close relatives if they’ll take on their share of responsibility so you can take much-needed breaks.

Getting help from the family will be different in every situation. For one person, it could be moving mom to the sister’s house for a year.

Another person and their sibling might take turns living with dad for 2 months at a time. In other cases, it could mean having your sister stay at your house for a week every two months so you can get away.

If they’re willing to help, be creative and flexible. No solution will be perfect, but any help you can get will lessen the workload for you.

5. Reduce financial pressure

Caring for an older adult can also place a significant financial burden on your family.

Reducing caregiving costs as much as possible helps decrease the amount of financial pressure and stress.

Suggestions:

  • Find government and private benefits programs that help with a variety of costs
  • Get paid for being a family caregiver
  • Reduce the cost of prescription drugs