More and more baby-boomers are finding themselves as caregivers. It is often true that the roles are reversed where the parent becomes the child and the child becomes the parent. I applaud those adult children who have taken on this responsibility even when it’s not always the easiest or most convenient thing to do. If you are presently doing this or considering it as a possible reality here are some tips that might be helpful for all parties involved.
Be sure to involve the older parent in all decisions being made – Just because a person is elderly doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have the ability or desire to know what’s going on especially if they are matters that relate to them. While you may have to repeat something several times it is important that they understand what’s going on. Putting it in writing might be a good alternative to communicate something effectively.
Be sure to take their thoughts in consideration – Remember they have feelings too. Don’t allow yourself to be their spokesperson when they are capable of doing so. Of course if they have dementia or some type of disease or disability that would prohibit them from doing so, then you would have to act on their behalf.
Make sure that there are social outlets for them to be involved in – This will keep them engaged with others while not becoming an island to themselves. Additionally it provides an opportunity to develop new friendships and worthwhile experiences.
Be sure they have regular medical and dental checkups along with a hearing assessment – It is important that their health concerns be addressed before simple problems become full-blown. While they may tend to have more health issues based on their age, preventive measures can possibly impede more serious ones.
Barbershop and beautician appointments – It’s amazing what a haircut or new hairstyle can do for one’s psyche. The elderly like to look attractive too. Good grooming is a definite must for a positive self-worth. And while you’re at it don’t forget to get those fingernails and toenails a little attention too.
Make sure they have attire that is clean and fashionable for their age range – While they don’t have to look like a runway model they should wear clothes that are comforable and makes them look good in.
Proper hygiene is important – It is important that the elderly are bathed on a regular basis to prevent the multitude of infections they are more susceptible to. And if they wear a diaper-like product, be sure it is changed regularly to hinder urine smells.
Recognize their birthdays or special occasions – Don’t let these times be forgotten. Celebrate them. They like gift and cards too.
Keep them in mind when planning family vacations – If they are able to travel make sure that accommodations are available in hotels where you might be staying.
Create special memories – There’s no time like the present to take a stroll down memory lane with your elderly loved ones. You would probably be amazed at the many stories they have stored up just wishing to share.
Love them unconditionally –No one has perfect parents or children. Mistakes will happen. It is important that they don’t feel like they are a burden to you. Let them know that you love them.
Treat them with dignity and respect – Our elderly loved ones need to be treated with dignity and respect. While they might not be able to do all that they once did, they are to be honored and respected. As hard as it might be on the caregiver, imagine how humbling it is for the elderly to have their children taking care of them.
As a caregiver, try to have some “me-time” for yourself. That might involve getting away for a few hours or going out with friends. Perhaps a friend or sibling might volunteer to watch out for your loved one for just this purpose.
Even with the challenges that are often a given while caring for the elderly, the payoffs can also be rewarding too. Remember one day you might be in need of someone to care of you too.
Personal knowledge and experience