Caring for an older family member is a big responsibility, yet it is incredibly rewarding. Knowing that you are there to provide hands-on care for someone you love in their older age can be reassuring to them, and also provide an extra boost of confidence for yourself.
After all, there are few things more commendable than looking after someone who needs help. It is the ultimate show of compassion and can make a significant difference in your loved one’s life. However, it can come with a lot of challenges both mentally and physically. Here are some of the best tips for taking care of them and navigating the challenges that come along with it.
Have a Plan
A little planning goes a long way, particularly when you’re looking after the well-being of an older loved one. You should have a plan in place for emergencies should something go wrong. Whether you need to call a plumber, or an ambulance, having a list of important phone numbers and protocols in place will help your family handle situations as they arise.
One of the hardest parts about getting older is admitting that we can’t do the same things we once could in our younger age. Rather than rubbing this in or reminding your older loved one how much they depend on others to get everything done, empower them instead. Promote their independence as much as possible, whether it’s letting them be a part of decision-making processes, or giving them a little room for autonomy in their daily routines.
Regardless of how much help you may think they need, you need to also listen to how much help they think they need. At the end of the day they’re not children but full-grown adults, and they deserve a little dignity in their older age.
Practice Self Care
When you’re looking after someone else so much, it’s easy to forget about yourself. However, it’s critical that you also take time for your own needs. Being a caregiver comes with an enormous amount of responsibility and pressure. Take the time to get rest when you need it, and take breaks as often as possible.
If you fail to do this, you could find yourself reaching the point of burnout. Caregiver stress is a very real condition and happens more often than you might like to think. When you’re thinking so much about someone else around the clock, particularly with advanced health concerns, it can start to take its toll on your overall well-being. Replenish your energy and inner peace as much as possible otherwise, if you can’t take care of yourself, how do you expect to be able to take care of someone else?
It’s important that you ask for help when you need it. This can come either from friends, family, or even a professional. The idea is that you can’t do everything on your own, even if you want to! Get the help you need so you can continue looking after yourself as well.