As our parents age, our role as “child” often flips to “caregiver.” How do you navigate this new relationship with your parent and ensure they get the care they need?
Ensure that someone is available to consistently check on their physical and mental health, and their living situation. During the time spent with you, you might notice if their memory, physical health, or personal hygiene begins to decline.
“If you do notice a decline, it’s important to not make changes all at once, or right away. Changes should be made incrementally to not drastically disturb their daily routine,” shares Annette Januzzi Wick, ProMedica blogger and speaker.
“We often think that as caregivers, we need to be the boss, make all the decisions and oversee everything that goes on in our parents’ lives,” Wick shares. However, our parents need us to let them be who they are. Let them lead the way and allow them to enjoy their freedom whenever possible.
They may not be the parent you remember them as – and that’s okay. “The more open that you can be to accepting who they are now, the more positive your visits and interactions with them will be,” Wick emphasizes.
Care for Yourself, Too
As you enter your new role as caregiver of your parents, remember to not put your own health and well-being aside. Set yourself up for success by taking the following steps:
- Practice self-care. Managing your parents’ care and your own life can be difficult. Make time for yourself and find outlets that help you relieve stress and bring you joy.
- Find support. Create a support system of family and friends that understand what you’re going through and can listen when you need to talk.
- Educate yourself. You don’t have to be an expert but staying informed about your parents’ wants and needs will help you feel more confident, especially later, when you’re making difficult decisions regarding their care.
- Be honest with yourself. Determine what’s important to you and your relationship with your parents and keep that in mind as you make decisions regarding your loved one.
Learn more about caring for your parents as they age from ProMedica blogger and speaker, Annette Januzzi Wick. In this episode of the Happily Ever After 40 podcast, she shares her experiences caring for her mother with dementia.
Annette is a writer, teacher, public speaker, and author of two memoirs on caregiving, love and loss, including I’ll Have Some of Yours. A combination of Italian roots, small-town footholds and urban living, her writings span the creative arts, women’s issues, cities, aging and memory.