Every year, millions of Americans — 34.2 million, to be exact — provide care to elderly adults. In many cases, these people act as caregivers to elderly parents or parents.
Have you recently found yourself in this situation? If you’ve been tasked with caring for your elderly parents, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You’re capable of providing care, though. Here are some crucial tips you need to keep in mind when you’re caring for elderly parents.
1. Understand the Level of Care They Need
One of the most important things to do when you start taking care of elderly parents is to evaluate the amount of care they need thoroughly. Acting as a caregiver isn’t just about running errands and reading magazines to them. You may be responsible for many challenging tasks, such as bathroom care, addressing their hygiene, and making sure they take their medication.
Before you agree to serve as a caregiver — part-time or full-time — make sure you understand exactly what tasks your parents need you to help them with. This doesn’t make you selfish. Instead, it shows that you’re smart and aren’t making a big decision on a whim.
2. Plan a Caregiving Budget
Understanding the financial burden of acting as a caregiver is also important. Aging in place can get expensive, especially if your parent requires a lot of medical care or needs renovations to make their home safer. So sit down and crunch the numbers to figure out how much it will cost for your parent (or parents) to age.
Please look carefully at your parents’ financial resources to see what they can afford. Then, ask yourself if you’re willing to foot the bill for what they can’t cover. Finally, use this information to put together a monthly caregiving budget.
3. Sit Down and Have “The Talk” Early
Your parents need to feel involved in the decision for you to act as their caregiver. It may be tempting to charge in and take control, especially after something serious has happened, like a fall or illness.
Make sure your parents have a say in the matter, though. Sit down and talk to them honestly about your concerns and how you’d like to help. You may get pushback from them, so you must be patient and stay calm throughout the conversation. Also, remember that this may need to be an ongoing conversation.
4. Get Their Estate in Order
Once your parents agree to let you act as a caregiver, taking steps to get their estate in order is essential. This includes reviewing documents like their wills, power of attorney, health care proxy forms, trusts, and do not resuscitate orders.
You’ll also need to know where to find documents like birth certificates, the deed to their home, and their insurance policy. Keep all these documents in a folder or binder so you can access them quickly.
5. Accept Assistance from Others
Let them know if someone else offers to assist you in your caregiving duties. It’s tempting to want to take over and do everything yourself. There’s nothing wrong with accepting help, though.
If you have siblings who live close by, talk to them about splitting the responsibilities of caring for your parents so that neither of you gets burned out. Friends and family members who live out of town can also help.
Arrange for regular phone calls to check in with your parents and make sure they’re okay, or talk to them about helping in other ways, like helping out with medical bills.
6. Inform Your Employer
You must let your employer know if you’re acting as a caregiver. Of course, this shouldn’t be an excuse to slack off at your job. But, your employer should know what you’re dealing with at home.
Even if you’re capable of keeping up with your responsibilities right now, you might have conflicts in the future. For example, you might also need to work on negotiating a new schedule or plan to work from home a couple of days per week. But, again, the more your employer knows about your situation, the more likely they will work with you.
7. Consider Paying for Additional Help
You might also consider paying for more skilled assistance while caring for your parents. For example, a home health aide can help with meal preparation, housekeeping, and other tasks to ensure your parent is in good hands while working or taking care of other things.
Professional help is essential if your parent suffers from a condition like dementia or has severe mobility limitations. There is a lot of helpful information online about finding skilled care providers for your elderly parents.
8. Take Care of Yourself
Finally, make sure you’re taking care of yourself. When you’re a caregiver, it’s easy to neglect your own needs and focus all your energy on caring for your parents. Remember, though, that you cannot pour from an empty cup.
If you’re not taking good care of yourself — eating well, sleeping, exercising, etc. — you’ll not be able to care for your parents properly. This is why accepting help or considering hiring a professional to come in regularly is essential. This allows you the time you need to recharge and refresh.
Want to Learn More About Caring for Elderly Parents?
As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to take care of your parents as they get older. Whether you serve as a primary caregiver or help them find more specialized care, you have many options to ensure your elderly parents stay safe and healthy.
Are you interested in learning more about caring for elderly parents? If so, check out the Family section of our site today. Many helpful tips here will inspire you to continue doing what you can to provide your parents with the help they need.