As we age, so do our parents. This transition can be emotionally and mentally taxing for both parties involved. It’s no secret that it can be difficult to find the balance between supporting your parents while also honoring your own needs and boundaries. Let’s explore some ways to navigate caring for aging parents as smoothly as possible.
Communication is Key
When dealing with aging parents, communication is key. Be sure to check in with them regularly and ask about their feelings and concerns about getting older and their living situation. Use open ended questions to see how they are coping with daily living. While your goal should not be to fix any of their issues, showing them that you are there for them and willing to listen will help make the transition smoother. Encourage open dialogue by expressing understanding, empathy, and validation while being sure to maintain healthy boundaries so that you don’t become overwhelmed or taken advantage of.
Stay Close While Maintaining Independence
It’s important to maintain a sense of independence even when your relationship with your parents changes due to age-related issues such as illness or dementia. Try scheduling regular phone calls or video chats if they live far away, or set up weekly visits if they are close by. Ensure that these visits are focused on quality time rather than on providing all the care they need—this distinction is key in maintaining balance in the relationship.
Creating a Support System
Caring for aging parents can be an overwhelming task — but you don’t have to shoulder it alone! Create a support system composed of family members, friends, church members, and other professionals who are willing to help out. Meal delivery service or kits can be a huge help as can a weekly cleaning service. Some laundromats will actually pick up clothes and linens and deliver them back fresh and folded. Developing a plan ahead of time will take some stress off of you and ensure that your loved ones get the best care possible when needed most.
Create an Emergency Plan
In case of an emergency (such as falls or severe illness), it’s important to have a plan in place in order to ensure that your parents are always safe and taken care of quickly. Research local medical facilities, create contact lists of family members and friends who can help out if needed, and have a list of medications handy for quick reference. Additionally, having a plan for financial affairs is just as important; you should keep track of any bank accounts or investments they might have so that these matters are handled properly in case something happens.
Dealing with ageing parents can be difficult; however, by establishing clear communication lines between you both, staying close yet independent from each other, and creating a support system for yourself and them, the process can become more manageable for all involved. Knowing what resources are available before challenges arise will help create peace of mind for both you and your aging parent(s). By taking proactive steps now, you’ll be better prepared when the time comes. With patience, compassion and understanding, navigating this challenging period will become easier over time!
Sharon P. Fisher is a board certified nurse practitioner and founder of Nurtured Well, LLC, a boutique women’s mental health practice supporting women in Maryland and D.C. through all stages of their adult life.