June 27

8 Tips to Becoming a Better Caregiver for Elderly Parents

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Feeling overwhelmed caring for your elderly parent? Or just looking for advice on how to improve their quality of life? 

It’s a rewarding experience to take care of your parent during their twilight years, but it isn’t easy. Keeping up with their medications and appointments is one thing, but keeping yourself healthy and maintaining your relationship with your parent is another. 

You don’t want to come out of this experience with resentment or guilt. 

That’s why our Aging Life Care Managers put together this shortlist of tips to help guide you through this stage in your parent’s life. 

1. Create a Daily Care Plan 

A daily care plan is a checklist of everything your elderly parent needs to do each day. It includes meals, medications, and activities they might enjoy doing. 

Having a daily care plan in place helps you see that all your parent’s needs are met and that they aren’t becoming either bored or overwhelmed. It helps you both to communicate and stay organized.

The best way to create a care plan is to ask your parent what they usually do each day. Ask about their routine things like personal hygiene and any activities they typically do. Include these things in the plan. Having this information available for you to reference will help maintain your routine and reduce stress.

2. Learn About Resources

The more information you have about your parent’s health and any conditions they may have, the more you can find and learn about any available resources and support services. These resources can help you financially care for your parent and offer you medical, practical, and emotional support. 

Resources like delivered meals, transportation, adult day care services that provide activities, or home health care services help you care for your parent and help lessen the burden. If qualified, there are financial aid resources that help with things like prescriptions or purchasing medical equipment, such as monitoring or mobility devices. 

Resources vary, based not only upon their health condition, but also where you live. Searching the internet and asking your parent’s medical team can help you get started finding these resources. 

3. Have Patience

As your parent gets older, certain things will become harder for them to do. They might not handle this adjustment well. 

Such things as trying to stand up from a seated position, climb stairs, carrying a plate of food, and walking are increasingly difficult. Even getting dressed, or putting on their shoes, might frustrate both of you. 

Losing the ability to do everyday things is hard to accept and can make older people who were once independent, frustrated, and even angry at times. 

They might say things they don’t mean through their frustration, and you need to be as patient and understanding as you possibly can. It’s hard for your parent to rely on you now, and they might not always express it appropriately.

When your elderly parent gets upset, try to think about how you would feel in the situation. Be patient and try to relate to them the best that you can. 

4. Be Present

Taking care of someone can sometimes feel like you are in a rut, just doing the same thing every day. Caring for your parent might start feeling like you are doing nothing more than going down a checklist. Don’t let that happen. 

Take time out of your to-do list each day to genuinely talk to them. Do your best to really connect and spend time enjoying their company. 

Being present for your parent is, in some ways, more important than making sure you’ve stuck to their care plan. You need to make sure your parent knows you care about them. 

It’ll be easier for them to listen to you if they know you care about their well being.  

5. Set Boundaries

Being present doesn’t mean giving up all of your own personal time, though. It helps if you establish boundaries with your parent early on so that you don’t get lost in caring for them. 

Without boundaries, you may start feeling like all you do is care for your parent, like you have no time to care for yourself. This will create feelings of resentment.

To help set boundaries, make sure your parent knows when they can call for you and what constitutes an emergency. And when you aren’t caring for them, take some time for yourself. 

6. Learn their Body Language

Non-verbal cues will help you communicate with your parent about things they might not be comfortable talking about. They might not know how to say what’s wrong. 

Body language can help you understand your parent if you pay attention.

Your parent might not realize something is wrong, but you will notice a change in their mood. Those changes might indicate that they are uncomfortable. Maybe they have a health problem that needs addressing. They could be hurting or depressed.

You mustn’t ignore your parent’s non-verbal cues. Pay attention, and you’ll be able to help them more effectively. 

7. Do it Because you Want to

Taking care of your parent should be a selfless act. You need to do it because you want to take care of them, not because you feel obligated to do it. 

Your parent will pick up on negative feelings you might have about caring for them. Your attitude can make them feel unwanted and depressed. 

You want this time to be a time of positive interaction between you and your parent. 

That doesn’t mean you cannot have bad days, because you will. But tending to your parent’s needs should come from your heart. Try to think about the benefits and stay optimistic.

8. Remember Who They Are

As your parent ages, they will go through changes, but it doesn’t change who they were to you. Their mental and physical capacities might alter their personality, but it’s your job to remember them for who they’ve always been. 

Your parent knows the changes they are going through. They might think it makes them less of a person, especially if you let those changes define who they are now.

Watching your mom or dad become angrier or more distant than when you were a kid can be frustrating. 

To help you stay grounded while caring for them, you need to remember them as who they really are. 

Quick Recap

Caring for an elderly parent, although rewarding, is a difficult task. 

It’s easy to feel swamped by all this information, so let’s go over our tips one more time. 

  • Create a daily care plan to help you and your parent stay organized
  • Learn about resources that can help you with financial and emotional support
  • Be patient with your parent as they become frustrated by things they can no longer do
  • Be present for your parent and talk to them about how they are feeling
  • Set boundaries so that you still have time to take care of your needs
  • Learn to read your parent’s body language because it might be difficult for them to communicate what they are feeling 
  • Take care of your parent because you want to, not because you feel obligated to
  • Remember who your parent truly is and why you love them.

If you still feel overwhelmed, keep reading to learn how we can help you. 

Get Help from an Aging Life Care Manager

Do you need help in figuring out how to care for your elderly parent? 

Are you struggling to find resources to help both of you through this new stage in life? 

Our Aging Life Care Managers are experts at navigating through this transition and at offering your family the support it needs. 

“Their compassion was extraordinary, their skill set was incredible and scheduling flexibility was remarkable. They were hard-working, and most importantly, they were so kind and thoughtful to my Dad no matter what his mood was on any particular day.” -Terry Schultz

Request a free consultation to speak with one of our Aging Life Care Managers about how they can help you.

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Life over 50 is complicated. From illnesses to general aging-related difficulties, there's a lot to learn and a lot to cope with. We understand and we're here to help answer questions and provide guidance on your options.


About the author

Amy Natt, MS, CMC, CSA

President & CEO, Aging Life Care™ Manager

“I am dedicated to working with older adults and their families to maintain dignity and enhance their quality of life.”

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