Throughout childhood and into young adulthood, parents play the role of looking after their children. However, as time passes and our parents age, it is often the case that we, as adult children, start to take on a caring role for our parents.
It can be a fulfilling role to support your parents, but it can also be stressful and increase pressure on your already busy life, particularly if you have children of your own to care for. In this article, St Johns Community Care will explore some steps you can take to look after your ageing parents.
Consider their needs
Spend time with your parents and assess what their needs are. No two ageing people will be the same, and needs will vary and expand as your parents grow older. Consider whether they are able to look after their house and keep it safe. Consider whether they need support to collect their groceries or with mobility. Also weigh up their medical needs and mental health needs. The best way to do this is inclusively, by having an open discussion with your parents. This is an important step for allowing your parents to maintain agency.
Respect their independence – if that’s what they want
The above point can be easier said than done, because some older adults may find it challenging to adapt to change and struggle to accept help from others emotionally. This can be an obstacle to fruitful conversations, so you may need to take a role of more gentle encouragement and raising their awareness of the community care services that are available – for example, social groups and home maintenance services. It may also be a matter of simply being there, and making small changes yourself, such as reducing safety risks, removing clutter or having grab bars installed.
Ensure that they can communicate with you effectively
It is much easier to take care of your parents when you understand what is going on in their lives. Discuss communications options with your parents that enable them to get in touch with you quickly. This may include introducing them to social media or mobile phones.
Consider your own needs
If we are overworked, stressed or frustrated, it can be hard to be our best selves when caring for our parents. Make sure to set aside time for your own self-care. This will ultimately enable you to be a better carer by preventing burn-out and regulating your emotions. Respite care (in the form of in-home support, for example) can allow you the necessary time off.
Look into alternatives to residential aged care
If your parents are aspiring to maintain their independence, look into care options and community care services that allow them to maintain their independence more fully and for longer. St Johns Community Care can offer services including supported accommodation in dedicated, lifestyle facilities. We can also provide in-home support, social and activity groups, transport services, and other helpful services. Browse our website or contact us for more information.