How to take care of yourself while caring for an elderly parent

Caring for an elderly parent can be an overwhelming experience. For one, there’s the stress related to seeing the health of someone close to you deteriorate. Two, the role reversal of caring for the person who cared for you so much of your life can be emotionally unsettling, to say the least. Not to mention the time it takes to give your elderly parent proper care — balancing work, family and friends all along the way.

That’s why in order to give the best care you need to first take care of yourself.

Help is always available from the knowledgable and experienced staff of senior care providers, such as Encompass Senior Solutions.

An article in the Huffington Post by author John Shore offers “15 Ways to Stay Sane While Caring For an Elderly Parent.” Below, we’ve summarized the key points of the article for you.

  • Don’t neglect yourself. Make the time to go for a walk, watch your favorite shows, eat healthy and spend quality time having fun away from caregiving. This will help rejuvenate you and likewise will make you a better caregiver.
  • Take things slow. It’s new territory for both you and your elderly parent. Shore suggests you both let the process reveal itself and unfold organically.
  • Accept change. The role reversal of who’s-caring-for-whom can be very difficult to adjust to. Shore advises to “write a whole new script,” where old methodologies, emotions and roles may not apply.
  • Don’t expect any emotional revelations. While it would certainly be wonderful if your parent suddenly opened up to your emotionally and spiritually, don’t expect any sort of thing to happen. Rather, go in with no expectations and be surprised.
  • Show them respect. Even if you’re calling most of the shots, by offering your elderly parent as much autonomy as possible — giving options versus ordered — it’s a sign that they still have control over their own life. Likewise, don’t be surprised if they act angry or upset, give them the same respect they’ve earned from you your entire life. Also, asking their advice on various things shows you still trust, love and respect them.
  • Shore: “Love your health care providers.” The expert advice and support provide by the healthcare professionals also taking are of your elderly parent is priceless at such a sensitive time in both you and your parent’s life. Remember to treat well all who are helping — nurses, doctors, social workers, physical therapists, etc.
  • Look to your spouse for support. Oftentimes, according to Shore, your parent may be more comfortable relating to your spouse than you. This is likely because your parent has never been a dominant force in your spouse’s life, making them peers in a way. Let this relationship work the best it can for all parties involved.
  • Expect insane siblings. Aside from the emotional roller coaster associated with dying parents, there’s all that come along with it: your parent’s will, their possessions, their house, money and assets, etc. Shore is right on to suggest you stay away from participating in the madness, so long as you protect yourself.
  • Don’t let your parent get under your skin. Your parent is a master of driving you crazy, as they know exactly what your triggers are. Protect yourself from petty emotions episodes. Shore suggests using the Seinfeld-esque motto, “No buttons for you!”
  • Find outlets to let go of the stress. Things such as talking regularly with a friend and praying/meditating can go a long way in helping you not only deal with the stress of caregiving, but also helps your emotional health. Remember, no one really knows what happens when we die — there are bigger things out there.

Are there any tips for staying sane that Shore missed? Let us know in the comments.

“Encompass Senior Solutions solves the problems families face in finding home health care providers they can trust. Providers who will focus on strategies that keep parents in their homes. To learn more about our health care services, visit http://www.encompass-home-health-care.com.”