• BLOG
Luke, July 31 2019

How to Care for Yourself While Caring for Your Ageing Parents

It is a familiar fact that with the transition into the senior age cadres, can come a lot of vulnerabilities. It then becomes a noble duty to assist seniors navigate through these age-imposed difficulties and limitations. Caring for seniors, especially one's aging parents, can be a compassionate experience, especially reflecting on how they invested time and care into you as a child.

But then, while assisting seniors can be a loving and fulfilling task, it also has its less than savory elements. For one it can be very tasking and demanding in both physical and emotional ways. The reasons for this are not farfetched: Senior citizens can sometimes need a whole lot of vigilant attention. They need to be assisted if they are going to get by a series of routine everyday events. They need extra care and vigilance on the occasions they go under the weather. They are way more susceptible to illness and unpleasant environmental conditions than younger people are, and this can mean the caretaker has to put in more effort in shielding them from the environmental effects and make a more scrutinized diet for them than otherwise required for younger people. 

All these demands a great deal of effort and commitment from the care taker. Effort and commitment, that can take its toll even on the most dedicated and loving of caretakers. This is not surprising. The effort demanded can be sometimes better suited to a super human, a superman perhaps, but in the end, even the best of care providers are human. And so, it's not uncommon that they feel stretched to their breaking point. Some caretakers have even reported developing depressed feelings in the course of providing care for a senior citizen provided upon them.

However, caring for your parents does not have to represent an unsavory or unsatisfying experience. It can actually be a very fulfilling thing both for the caretaker and the senior if done in an optimal manner. Some useful tips to help you effectively manage the situation include:

Recognizing that you are only human: This is a very important thing to note. As a caretaker, even for those you love the most, you do not have limitless energy to expend. You will get tired. You will need rest at some periods and that is totally okay. Once you recognize this fact, it enables you to approach care taking with a more rational perspective and helps you avoid a lot of the problems and the unnecessary stress those who do not recognize their limits and try to do everything, every time usually run into. Instead your care taking becomes more balanced both for you and the senior the moments you respect your limits and act within your optimum capacity without taking on a greater burden than you can or should ideally bear.

Take care of yourself too. In caring for others, caretakers can sometimes lose themselves so to speak. Forget that they also need care. Some of the eventual breakdown that can result from caring for a senior can be linked to the fact that the caretaker in caring for another, neglected themselves. This situation is hardly ideal, both for the caretaker and the senior. For the former, they run the risk of running themselves into the ground, incurring ill physical and emotional or mental health, while for the senior citizen, the quality of care they receive drastically reduces. Only healthy people can adequately provide care. So, at the same time the caretaker is declining in health, so is the quality of the care they provide. The axiom "help yourself to be able to help others" becomes very true here. So, help yourself. Take regular baths, check-ups, exercise, unwind regularly.  And relax. For relaxing, you may want to take up a yoga routine or you could more simply, as an increasing number of people do, add a CBD (which you can check out here if interested) product to help you relax better especially as part of an evening relaxation routine after the stress of the day, so you can wake up better refreshed in the morning. Or alternatively perhaps add it to your preparatory routine after bath. It is also important to never neglect your health. Go for regular health check-ups and treat illnesses promptly. Remember this is for your senior's good as much as it for them. A healthy happier you is far better for them than an unhealthy version of you who cannot in the first place, render top quality care.

Finally, consider the possibility of getting extra help. A do it alone approach can sometimes prove too stressful and ultimately backfire for those who adopt it. The workload then turns out to require more than they can give, and without proper adjustments being made in that direction, issues of intense stress and burnout can then arise. This, to the detriment not only of the care taker but as highlighted earlier, also to that of the senior individual who needs care. The care they receive then becomes inefficient and inadequate.

Therefore, the workload required is better handled when split, than when the burden is carried all alone. Assess the situation, if it looks demanding then get extra help with managing it. You do not have to totally withdraw yourself from providing care, just get help with some of the tasks. This provides a more satisfying experience for both you and the senior individual.

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