As we get older, we see our parents making the transition from agile and healthy to frail and weak. We don’t think about it when we’re younger, and our parents are chasing after our kids in the garden, but there’s a point when our parents aren’t able to do this anymore, and we have to, in many ways, become a parent to our parents. Looking after our parents as they age is a difficult task, but one we need to rise to. So if you have parents who need a bit more help, or you are wondering which way to turn, here are some practical pieces of advice.
Who can help you out?
Do you have family members that can help? It’s very difficult if you’re the only child, and there aren’t any relatives nearby. If you need extra help, it’s time to think about the practical approaches. Professional help is available, but it comes at a cost. If your parents need a tiny bit of assistance, is there anybody else in the neighborhood that can help? You shouldn’t feel like you have to take on all of the duties yourself, and it’s physically impossible for one person to do everything. Of course, you want the best for them, but you need to think more proactively.
What do your parents want?
And if you feel like you need to take on the bulk of the duties, have you thought about what your parents want in the grand scheme of things? There are some parents who feel like they want to retain their independence for as long as possible, but others are ready to go into a private nursing home depending on the severity of the type of conditions they have, they may not be able to make the best judgement for themselves. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore their wishes.
Can you cope with everything?
It’s an emotional minefield, especially when you have your own children, a job, and your own life to maintain. It can feel like there is no let up. And you need to ask yourself if you are able to cope with the demands. Of course, you’re going to say “yes”, but a lot of people battle on without regard for their own health. If you have any concerns about your ability to cope with everything, you need to ask for help. you need to have as much help as you can from your immediate family, from your children and your partner, but you need to know when to take a step back. It can be very difficult when we have parents who are getting to the point where they need so much help, and as much as you want to help all the time, it might not be physically possible.
Your emotions can cloud your judgment if you are trying to do your best by your aging parents, but it is one of those situations in life where you have to operate with a healthy balance of care in an emotional sense, but also operate methodically.