If you find yourself caring for aging parents, it’s important to take care of yourself and implement ways to reduce your stress.
It’s hard to avoid stress – even if your parent is in an assisted living facility like Country Home Assisted Living in Parker, CO. The emotions you feel as your parent ages and struggles with declining health can easily take a toll on you.
In a continuation of my series on caring for aging parents, let’s look at some key actions you can take to reduce your burden and handle your stress.
1. Practice self-care. As they say when going through safety procedures on airplanes, take care of yourself first and then look after your children or others with you. The same is true here. When you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t last long in your efforts to properly take care of others.
Self-care can come in many forms, but it almost always includes getting exercise, proper nutrition and sleep.
It’s also important to mention that it’s okay to take some time for yourself on a regular basis. Do at least one thing for yourself on a daily basis, whether it’s going to a fitness class, watching your favorite TV show or reading a novel. When you put yourself first, even for just an hour, you’ll feel much better when you are back at your caregiver duties.
2. Delegate. People are always offering to help, but caregivers often fail to accept these offers. Instead of turning help down, start saying “YES!” Yes, you can pick my sister up at the airport. Yes, you can stop in weekly for a visit. Yes, you can take my parent out to lunch.
Even if your parent is at a retirement community or an assisted living facility, friends and family can still assist you. For example, at Country Home Assisted Living in Elbert County, we welcome visitors and encourage outings for our residents.
3. Arrange respite care. Giving yourself a break from your caregiving responsibilities is also important. This goes along with the previous concept of accepting help. There are times when you can’t do it all.
Ask friends, relatives or even volunteers or professionals with community respite programs to spend some time with your loved ones. This could be an ongoing agreement to have someone come in for an hour or two so you can run errands, go to a movie or whatever.
4. Prioritize. You are one person, so it’s important to make a list of all the things you need to get done and then prioritize then. There may be items you can cut out or that other people can handle for you. When you do this on a regular basis, you won’t be quite as overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done.
5. Enjoy your precious moments. As I said earlier, the emotions that you and your parent feel can wear both of you down. So, it’s important to make time to do something fun together, such as looking at old photos, listening to music and singing, or watching comedy videos. These are moments, when you can actually enjoy life together, that you will remember long into the future.