Written by: Cameron Rosario
Medically reviewed by: Rob Philibert MD PhD
As we grow older, our loved ones, including our parents, grow older along with us. From your perspective as the child of your parents, you may be worried about their health and safety and how you can assist them in optimizing their emotional, physical, and mental well-being. As a matter of fact, the National Alliance for Caregiving estimates that about 29 percent of adults in the United States act as a caregiver for an ill or disabled family member at one point of their lives.
There is no doubt that caring for others can be overwhelming. But by collaborating with parents to curate a plan of action and establish healthy boundaries, you can both achieve your goals. While doing so, it is important to remember that your parents are their own person with individual values and beliefs. Your purpose is to assist them in their goals and guide them in the best possible direction, which allows them to ultimately make decisions on their own.
1. Remember That Your Parents Are Their Own Person
Remembering that your parents are their own person can be difficult, especially when you both have differing views. In times like these, you should analyze the decision from their perspective and remind yourself how they feel in the situation. As they grow older, they may be concerned about the prospects for their health and the associated loss of independence that comes with poor health.
By maintaining communication with your parents, you can provide the support they need to feel empowered to make the best decision for themselves. Communication should be a two-way conversation, which means that mode of communication should be sorted. Whether this be through phone, text, and/or in-person, ensuring that the method of conversation is easily accessible and understood by your parents is crucial to avoid miscommunication. Regardless of the communication level, difficult conversations are inevitable and should be welcomed instead of avoided. Your parents may be hesitant at first, but it is important to have these difficult conversations for the betterment of their health.
2. Write Down All The Essential Tasks To Gauge How Much Care Your Parent(s) Need
Occasionally when caring for others, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and begin neglecting your own health. This is harmful as you are not only harming your mental health, but also exhausting yourself to the point where you cannot help them. To avoid this, use a notepad, or any form of notetaking of your choice, to document all the essential daily, weekly, and monthly tasks you discuss with your parents. Additionally, making sure the list is up to date every few months to make sure it can still provide your parent(s) with optimal care!
Key areas you may want to discuss with your parents are:
- Support from loved ones
- Social interactions with others
- Safety at home
- Personal hygiene
- Medical needs
- Dietary needs
Once you gauge how much assistance your parents require, you can begin thinking about your healthy boundaries and limits to set realistic goals for care:
- Are you physically fit to care of another person?
- How accessible is the other person? Would you have to move into their house/share a home?
- Are you willing to adapt to a new environment and learn how to care for another person?
- Are there any issues with the type of relationship you and the other person share that may interfere with the care given?
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Once you are able to write down all the essential tasks needed and identify areas in which you need assistance, you can start searching for opportunities. While searching for these opportunities, talk to your parents about what they would be interested in participating in or areas of their life in which they want to improve, such as socializing or picking up new hobbies. Other factors that should be taken into consideration are modes of transportation, potential scheduling conflicts and its energy consumption.
Make sure to thoroughly understand what each service can provide since different opportunities fulfill different needs. Daily Caring has come up with ideas for different opportunities you may want to look into:
- Adult day program
- In-home caregiving
- Volunteer senior companion programs
- Meal delivery services
- Assistance from friends and other family members
4. Participate In Trips To The Doctors
Ensuring your parent(s) are taking the needed medications and treatment is a fundamental step to delivering adequate care. Even more so, acknowledging your parents’ risk for specific disease, such as heart disease, can help you encourage the integration of meaningful lifestyle changes to his/her routine that can help them live their healthiest life.
Some alterations your doctor may recommend are:
- Cutting down on foods that increase cholesterol.
- Going on walks more often.
- Quit Smoking.
By following these tips, you can care for your parents– just as they did for you.