Caring for Elderly Parents: 13 Tips to Help You Become a Better Caregiver
There are more than 30 million Americans who are currently responsible for providing unpaid care for an adult over the age of 50. Many of these Americans are adult children caring for elderly parents.
If you fall into this category, you know how difficult it can be at times to set your parents up with quality care. It requires you to spend a lot of time tending to their needs and making sure you’re there for your parents at all times.
Do you want to become a better caregiver overall so that you can provide better care for your parents on a daily basis? There are steps you can take to meet the constant challenges of caring for elderly parents.
Follow the tips below to gradually turn yourself into a much better caregiver.
1. Talk to Your Parents About How They Feel About Their Situation
When you make the decision to start caring for elderly parents, sit down with them and talk about how they feel about the situation.
Do they feel like they’re losing their sense of freedom? Are they upset that they can’t remain in their own home? Is there something that is really bothering them about the way they’re being treated?
You might feel like you’re doing the best thing for your parents by welcoming them into your home to care for them. But they could actually resent you for it and take it out on you if you don’t take the time to ask them how they feel.
By talking with your parents, you can get on the same page as them and work out any potential issues before they turn into big problems.
2. Ask Your Parents What You Can Do to Care for Them
Once you find out how your parents feel about the situation, speak with them about what you can do to make their life better.
Do they want you to:
- Help them to remember to take their medications every day?
- Make sure they make it to church every Sunday?
- Assist them as they get in and out of the bathtub every morning?
- Walk around the block with them once a day for exercise?
- Sit with them and talk to help them improve their mental health?
There might some obvious things you need to do when caring for elderly parents. But you might be surprised to hear about the things your parents really want help with.
You can greatly improve their quality of life by tending to their needs and allowing them to live as normally as possible.
3. Consider If You’re Going to Quit Your Job or Not
There are many people who choose to quit their job once they start caring for elderly parents. Even if they’re still relatively young, they sacrifice their earnings in order to make sure they’re around for their parents.
Can you afford to do this? Do you want to do it? Will it make it difficult for you to keep your home and maintain it?
These are all questions you’ll want to ask yourself before you begin caring for aging parents.
4. Figure Out How Much It’s Going to Cost While Caring for Elderly Parents
One of the things that might affect your decision as to whether or not you’ll quit your job is the cost associated with caring for aging parents. You might have to pay out more than you’re expecting every month to have your parents living in your home.
Crunch the numbers and see how much you’re going to put out every month to provide care for your parents. It could impact your job decision and force you to make financial adjustments in other areas of your life.
5. Create a Caregiving Budget and Stick to It
Once you know how much it’s going to cost for your parents to live with you, create a realistic caregiving budget. Include costs associated with:
- Doctor visits
- In-home health care visits
- And more
Your budget should account for all the expenses that are going to pop up once your parents are under your roof. Do your best to stick to that budget to avoid dipping into your own personal budget and adversely affecting your family’s financial well-being.
6. Find Out If You Qualify to Receive Any Professional Help
It’s going to be incredibly difficult to go about caring for aging parents on your own. You will, at some point, need a break.
You may qualify to receive home visits from a nurse. Your parent may also have home visits included as part of their health insurance policy.
Talk to your parents about whether or not they have access to in-home health care. In-home health aides will give you a brief break from caring for your parents and allow you to focus on other areas of your life.
7. Seek Help From Your Siblings If You Have Them
Do you have any brothers and sisters? They should play a part in caring for elderly parents.
Even if they live in another state or have a career they can’t put on hold, they should do something to help you out. They can:
- Agree to come to your home once every week or so to give you a break
- Contribute money so that you can provide the best care possible for your parents
- Call your parents regularly to check up on them and see how they’re doing
Lean on your siblings as early and as often as you can. They should be able to provide you with the support you’ll need throughout this process.
8. Keep a Detailed List of the Things You Need to Do for Your Parents
If you’re not organized, you’re going to get extremely stressed out while caring for elderly parents. It’s going to feel like you’re constantly trying to figure out what to do next.
Put together a detailed list of the things you need to do for your parents each and every day. Then, follow that list accordingly when you wake up every morning.
This will prevent you from forgetting to do things for your parents. It’ll also allow others to step in and play your role when you need a breather.
9. Learn Ways to Be More Efficient When Providing Your Parents With Care
As the weeks, months, and possibly even years go by, evaluate the care you’re providing for your parents and find ways to be more efficient.
For example, if you need to run errands for your parents, find ways to work your own errands into the mix so that you’re getting everything done at once. Or if you need to run your parents to doctors’ appointments throughout the week, have them coincide with appointments you have on the same days.
Taking this approach will eliminate some of the unnecessary trips you might be taking every day.
10. Talk to Your Parents’ Doctors About the Care They Need
If you’re going to be taking your parents to their various doctors’ appointments, make sure you’re talking to the doctors about what you could be doing to provide better care.
Doctors might tell you your parents need to eat more. They might tell you your parents need to get more rest.
Whatever the case, you can customize the care you give your parents around the suggestions made by their doctors. It’ll take some of the guesswork out of it for you.
11. Obtain Life Insurance for Your Parents
Most people don’t realize life insurance for seniors over 80 exists. But it does, and it’s something you should invest in if you can.
It will help cover things like funeral costs and unpaid debts later. It’ll also help with estate planning and any money that is going to be left behind by your parents.
These are things you don’t really have time to think about when caring for aging parents. Let someone else worry about them for you.
12. Continue Communicating With Your Parents
Over time, your parents’ needs are inevitably going to change. Their mobility might become more and more limited, and it could affect them in ways that you couldn’t have imagined.
Keep talking to them about how you can provide better care. Listen to their needs and respond accordingly by stepping up your efforts. This will keep your parents happy and not make them feel like a burden.
13. Make as Much Time for Yourself as You Can
You want to be the best caregiver you can possibly be. But that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your entire life to do it!
Go out on dates with your spouse. Take your kids to a ballgame. Hang out with your friends on the weekend.
Make time for yourself and spend it wisely. You’ll be a much better caregiver when you step out of your home from time to time to enjoy life.
Start Caring for Elderly Parents More Effectively Today
Although caring for elderly parents can be tough, it can also be very rewarding when you work hard at it. Your parents have done so much for you throughout your life, so why not pay them back by providing the best care you can?
When you use the tips listed above, you’ll transform yourself into a better caregiver. You’ll also feel less stressed when you care for your parents and make them a lot happier.
Take a look at our blog to learn more about improving yourself.