Caring for Others While Caring for Yourself
As a Baby Boomer, I am not quite frail or senile enough to need my sons to care for me. Although they frequently act as if I do. My circumstances are that I do not have any ageing relatives to care for. However, I do regularly visit or phone an older member of our church and help with errands and transportation. That means I am aware of the time and commitment others of my age put into caregiving.
People are living longer. Many of my generation are at an age when we would have been on the receiving end of care had we been born 50 years earlier. Now we find we are the care givers for late 80 and 90 year olds.
I read recently that the fastest growing age group in North America is the 90+ group. That means more 60 and 70-year-olds will be caring for older parents than ever before.
That’s why this post from Silvernest is both timely and valuable. We cannot help others if we do not look after ourselves.
Caring for others, especially caregiving for a family member is a labor of love, but it can be easy to get caught in the daily cycle of trying to get personal stuff done, and that often comes at the cost of sacrificing the two things that matter most – your relationship with your ageing parent and your own health. Here are some proactive steps you can take to be a nurturing caregiver for your mom or dad, while also taking some of the stress off of yourself.
Optimize your resources.
In our diligence to address our aging parent’s every need, we often invest in all sorts of resources – from house cleaners to homecare workers to transportation providers – all of which need to be scheduled and managed, stealing valuable time away from our loved ones. While some services specialize in one type of care, there are others that provide additional services that aren’t always advertised. Ask around and try to find a provider that offers multiple services, so you can consolidate and have more time available to spend where it matters most. For example, in-home care providers like ComForCare offer home care, as well as cooking, transportation, house cleaning and more. With a little research, odds are good that you can find a solution that cuts down on the number of resources that you need to manage and lightens your stress.
Build in some extra peace-of-mind.
You can’t always be there to check on your parent’s wellbeing or make sure something doesn’t happen while they’re alone. For peace of mind, consider renting out a room in their home to a compatible roommate. The concept of housesharing is becoming popular among aging adults because it opens up so many possibilities – extra security, added income to defray costs, companionship and another set of hands (and eyes) to help out around the house. Services such as Silvernest specialize in finding perfect housemate for your mom or dad, and make the process safe and simple by conducting background checks, helping to get the lease in place and facilitating payments.
Teach them the power of FaceTime.
A little technology can go a long way. Programs such as FaceTime and Skype can help you stay better connected, so when you can’t be there you can “see” how they’re really doing – no more hiding behind the phone. As an added bonus, an iPad can help them stay more engaged with their friends and other family members, too. This can be a great way to share caregiving responsibilities with long-distance siblings, and provide multiple touches each week for your parent.
Put groceries on automatic delivery.
Nutrition is often a challenge for ageing adults, mostly because their transportation options are limited. Using a service such as Amazon or Instacart, you can schedule groceries to be delivered fresh every week. Most of these services offer plan-ahead options, so you can ensure that your parent is getting a well-balanced array of food items. If your mom or dad is not up for cooking, look for services like Mom’s Meals, that deliver prepared or ready-to-cook meals. Another option is to ask your in-home care provider to cook while they’re at the house.
Being in the role of caregiver is stressful even in the best of circumstances. Remember the analogy of the flight attendant encouraging you to put your own oxygen mask on first, before helping others. As a caregiver you create an ecosystem of people and resources around your parent; otherwise, if you fall apart, so does the entire system!
Thanks to Silvernest for providing those tips.
Caring for others in South West Ontario is made easier with the services of local care providers. One we know is Retire at Home we do not have any commercial relationship with the business, just know that they provide a good service.
For those of you who have not read this post before, here is a link to an amazing example of achievement by a very determined senior.