There is an old saying which many of us may be familiar with, “Once a Man Twice a Child.”. One way of interpreting this expression is that we all start as dependent infants. However, as we experience “old age”, we may become dependent on support again. We recognise this reality as the cycle of life.
Caring for an elderly parent or another relative often falls on their adult offspring and/or relatives. In addition, the adult caregiver themself may be providing care for their own children. This ‘sandwich combination’ can come with significant levels of stress for the caregiver.
As the ageing process advances, the senior will move through several psychological and physiological stages. Parents generally make a plan for the development of their children during the stages of infancy. Equally, as much as possible, it is essential to have individual ageing plans proactively. Likewise, a discussion with your parents or relatives on their ageing plans is necessary.
Caring for your elderly parents or relatives can be demanding. This is exacerbated if you do not have the resources or the support that is needed.
Here are tips for taking care of the elderly.
One thing that will become clear early in this journey is the importance of taking care of yourself as the caregiver. This includes permitting yourself to acknowledge your feelings of exhaustion or burnout. Additionally, incorporate exercise for your physical health. Carve out personal time that will take you away from your caring responsibilities for a period of time. Do not give in to feelings of guilt about caring for yourself. Also, never hesitate to ask for help.
Assessing the Care Needed
If possible, create a checklist of the tasks to be undertaken. This part of the process will support your ability to assess the cost, time and other resources that may be needed. It will also allow you to schedule your responsibilities such as administering medication, going to appointments and even rest.
Be Respectful to the Elderly
Before jumping in as the caregiver, ask the person what would be helpful to them. Seeking their input may go a long way in reducing the stress level on you as their caregiver. Remember, they are still your elders, no matter how their abilities have changed. Respect should always be what you lead with when communicating with your elders.
Taking care of your elderly relative at home may be the best option for many. However, providing at-home care may not be possible for various reasons. Additionally, the caregiver may explore admitting them in a nursing home or even having 24/7 professional care within their own home.
Taking care of the elderly will come with a cost. The expected costs will be financial, emotional, time-based, and a range of other non-monetary resources. Some benefits can be derived if the caregiver can have the elderly living with them.
Finally, there are substantially more involvement, benefits, and tips when preparing to care for your elders. We will share in another article some Jamaica specific resources that are available to support you along this journey.