Taking care of an aging parent is a gratifying and enriching experience, albeit trying at times. It’s also emotionally complex and sometimes physically demanding. Here are some ways to keep yourself thriving so you can be at your very best to help.
Accept Things are Different.
Let’s face it, the roles have been reversed. We understand! At first, it can feel abnormal to have your parent depend on you. This paradigm shift needs to be acknowledged and accepted; give yourself ample time to transition. You are rewriting the rulebook from this point forward.
Show Love to Their Health-Care Providers.
There are amazing professionals in the world that are helping your parent live their best life. Cherish them. From the nurses, doctors and physical therapists to the home cleaning crew, show each person kindness and grace. Let them know you appreciate what they do by a smile or a small token of appreciation.
Set Boundaries Early On.
Boundaries are our friends. They’re put in place to serve as clear and defined guides. In fact, all healthy relationships have good boundaries. The line between caring for and enabling an aging parent can get blurred and it’s at this point that caregivers overextend themselves. This can affect finances, personal and mental health. So don’t let it! Set boundaries early on about what you are and are not willing to do. This could come in the form of hours spent caring per day or week, a limit to financial costs spent, specific caring tasks and more.
Put Yourself on the Top of the Priority List.
Recognize the signs of caregiver burnout: irritability, withdrawal, fatigue, insomnia, apathy, appetite changes, increased substance guilt. While you might not feel like you have the time, putting yourself at a higher priority can completely shift your mindset for the better. Making sure you take care of yourself by eating nourishing food, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated every day can boost your mood and improve your overall health.
Seek a Deeper Connection.
Many of us find turning to a higher power in a time of need a great form of solace. Offering prayers to God, the universe or whatever you may call it can create a sense of internal calm and well-being. If spirituality isn’t your thing, meditation may serve you well. Find a quiet spot to sit first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. Taking even as little as two minutes each time to meditate can soothe your mind, body and spirit.
Just remember that you have to take care of yourself before you can be in top shape to care for others — whether that’s your children, spouse or your aging parents.