Monday, October 10, 2016

Guest Post: Coping Techniques to Make Life More Manageable

By Daniel Lewis

Aging parents often need care. They require attention and want to feel part of the community in spite of their challenges. But they don’t want to get in the way of their kids’ lives, and most don’t want anyone to devote all of their time to them. And yet, when aging parents are having trouble managing their own households, it’s usually up to the adult children to lend a hand. Here are a few techniques for caregivers that won’t compromise your current lifestyle and make the whole process a little easier.

Dealing with a Crisis
Few are fully prepared to be a caregiver, especially when it comes to caring for your own parents. It can be difficult to not get overly involved on an emotional level… even impossible. Inevitably, we all must find a way to deal with unpleasant, heartbreaking situations.  It’s never easy to hear that your parent has dementia, or that they can’t walk, hear or see anymore. What you can do, however, is remain calm. Find ways to get through the initial shock and try not to blame yourself. The more clear your thinking, the better the quality of care you can provide.

Ask for Help from Siblings
You are not obliged to be on this journey alone. Caring for an aging parent can be completely overwhelming. Ask for help from your closest siblings, and settle on a plan to help your parent(s) together. Craft a detailed schedule and make time to visit. If you’re facing dementia and your loved one can’t remember even the simplest things, you may have to consider your options for care. Dementia is an incurable disease, and while there’s nothing you can do to stop the onset on the condition, strive to focus on the positive. Gather the family and visit Mom or Dad as often as possible; bring the grandkids and look at family photos together. Spend quality time and enjoy every moment to the fullest.  
Communicating with aging parents is key, especially if you see their need for care increasing. Many seniors don’t want to be a “bother” or they feel strongly about living on their own on their own terms. At a certain point, that’s no longer realistic and has to be discussed. In the meantime, check on your parents periodically and see for yourself if they need anything. Keep the lines of communication open and take time to reminisce about the “good old days.” This will lift their spirits, and you both won’t feel quite so alone.

Make Caregiving Fun (Don’t Let Them See You Struggling)
You may feel like crying when you notice that Mom isn't tracking well, or can’t do certain activities anymore. Better to not let them see you’re struggling, and work to bring some joy into the caregiving. Take your parents out for a walk, offer to help with grocery shopping and find the right moment to talk about getting them more assistance.
We’ve mentioned before that caregiving is never easy. You may not know how to look after an aging parent… and that’s okay. Get informed and ask for assistance from a professional. Or check for tips on helping Mom or Dad live more comfortably in their 70s, 80s and beyond. Physical impairments and dementia can be devastating. Consider ways to help improve their quality of life. For example, the Alzheimer’s Association has a great deal of valuable information for keeping your parent “present” and easing their feelings of sadness and loss.

If you’ve reached the point where aging in place is no longer feasible, you may want to consider a centrally located care center.  Skilled nursing facilities can provide many services not possible in a home setting, and you can visit them whenever you want. They’ll also be surrounded by people of the same age, and have access to activities to keep them engaged. 
Sometimes, being the best caregiver means knowing when to reach out for professional help so your loved one receives all of the care they so need.
Daniel Lewis writes about health and fitness-related issues. He has a deep knowledge of the field and is a regular contributor to, which focuses on elder care homes and retirement villages in the UK.

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