How to Take Care of Yourself While Caring for Elderly Parents
If you or your spouse are caring for an aging parent, you’re not alone. About 25% of Americans say they regularly care for an elderly parent – whether that involves giving financial assistance or help with home repairs, running errands, or personal grooming. While you may be happy to be there for your loved one, caring for an aging relative can be a difficult task. That’s why it’s crucial to take care of yourself while caring for elderly parents. We’ve provided a few self-care tips to help boost your spirits and ease the worries of providing home care.
Schedule “Off” Time
Caring for an elderly parent can be a full-time job. In fact, live-in family caregivers report spending an average of 40.5 hours per week helping their loved one. When combined with a full-time job, childcare and household responsibilities, that extra 40 hours can leave you feeling tired or worn out. It’s important to take time away from your parent so that you can refresh and relax. This way, you’ll return with more energy and improved spirits, which can translate into better care. Arrange for a family member or friend to take over your responsibilities once or twice a week so that you have a day off for yourself.
Appreciate Your Own Efforts
Sometimes, home caregivers feel guilty over not being able to meet 100% of their aging parent’s needs. If this happens, shift your focus to recognizing what you do provide. Remember, not every child would step in to take care of a parent as they are growing older. Treat yourself with the same kindness as you would a friend or relative, applauding the effort you put forth every week to ensure your parent is safe and healthy.
Find Stress Relief
Sometimes, you may feel physically or emotionally spent after a particularly tough day with your loved one. When these types of situations occur, look for healthful ways to alleviate your stress. Tai chi, yoga and meditation are designed to help you cope with everyday stressors. Other caregivers may find relief in painting or taking a weekly dance class. Choose a weekly activity that helps you release stress.
Pay Attention to Your Body
It’s easy to neglect your own health when you’re worried about someone else’s. But if you get sick, that could potentially pose a bigger concern for your loved one. Consult your doctor for recommendations to boost your immune system and maintain your overall health. Take daily vitamin supplements when needed and be sure to get plenty of quality rest at night. You may also want to follow the Department of Health and Human Services guideline of 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 of vigorous aerobic exercise per week.
This is the most important thing you can do to take care of yourself while caring for an aging parent. Even if you’re not currently working, or you have limited home responsibilities, you may need assistance helping your loved one. About 30% of family caregivers receive outside help from a program such as Santé Home Health Care. Our skilled nurses are trained to help your loved one with daily medical needs such as checking vitals and managing medications, while home health aides can assist with grooming, socialization and household tasks. Physical, occupational and speech therapists are also available to help your loved one improve their physical condition.
While helping your aging parent may be a primary focus, it’s important to take the time you need for self-care. The stronger your health and well-being, the better your ability to provide care for your loved one will be. For more information on how Santé’s at-home care program can support you and your family, contact us at 480-563-2402.