When caring for your aging parents, maximize resources to minimize relationship stress
By Colleen Van Horn, RN, B.S.N, PHN, CCM
Taking care of aging loved ones – be they parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles – is a trying experience, and one for which few of us are innately prepared. Dealing with the complexities of a parent’s age, illness, mental and physical deterioration or even simple lifestyle adjustments can take its toll, and result in anxiety or, in some cases, even opportunistic or abusive behavior on the part of adult children who find themselves suddenly “parenting” their parents. When caring for your aging parents, it is therefore of the utmost importance to seek help at the first opportunity – and to create a trusted network of family, friends, community resources and geriatric care professionals who can be there to provide assistance, guidance, part-time care and financial advice for the sake of both your health and your loved one’s safety and comfort.
Judi Hopson and Emma Hopson, co-authors of the stress management guide “Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress,” recently published an article in the Sacramento Bee in conjunction with psychologist Ted Hagen concerning the stories of several individuals who found their family relationships severely strained as a result of eldercare responsibilities for aging parents. As experts in managing and reducing the stress brought on by eldercare – oftentimes a blend of worry, sadness, trauma, multitasking and financial burden – Hopson, Hopson and Hagen created a checklist for those struggling to juggle work, family and personal relationships, budget concerns and caregiving tasks:
- Be realistic: eldercare decisions can be difficult, and may not please everyone involved. However, it is critical to recognize the vulnerability of aging loved ones in order to arrange the appropriate system of care – and to gently enforce choices made in your parent’s best interest.
- Be safe: especially in cases involving Alzheimer’s, dementia or a history of falls or accidents, safety should be a top priority.
- Seek out resources: call around to locate community programs, such as senior centers or adult daycare facilities, and create a network of support involving family and friends who are available and willing to help out in the event of long work hours, emergencies, or other unforeseen circumstances.
Even in light of these tips, getting started and determining a routine can seem overwhelming. If you or a family member is preparing to take on the responsibility of caring for an aging loved one, consider consulting a professional geriatric care manager to determine a course of action for medical, nutritional, logistical and lifestyle concerns that suits both your budget and your schedule.
At Innovative Healthcare Consultants, our skilled geriatric care managers can help you take the first steps towards a sustainable and holistic eldercare routine – one that takes your time, health, finances and emotional needs into consideration and reduces the burden on all concerned while prioritizing your aging family member’s safety and well-being. To learn more, visit us online today: www.innovativehc.com
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