Baby Boomers all over the United States are facing a common and challenging phase of their lives: Aging Parents.
Many of us become overwhelmed with what this entails and seek advice about how to help elderly parents stay as healthy and as comfortable as possible. At Alvita Care, we provide home care and geriatric care services to baby boomers who often ask us for advice concerning their elderly parents. We recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution; every family has a different background and experiences that make the challenge of helping elderly parents different for every family. But to begin the journey involved in helping elderly parents, there are a few first steps that can make the rest of the process more manageable. Here are some important tips to keep in mind that can serve as a helpful starting point in helping your relationship with an aging loved one.
1. Maintain patience and perspective.
Baby boomers are constantly stressed. Already facing countless pressures from work, children, spouses, friends, and bills, adding caring for elderly parents into the mix can become overwhelming. It is important to maintain patience when dealing with your aging parents, even if they are calling for the tenth time to complain that the delivery man hasn’t arrived yet. As a person ages, their perception of reality and what should be deemed important changes, often leading to increased anxiety about seemingly insignificant matters. What might seem inconsequential to you as a baby boomer may be of utmost importance to your elderly parent. A simple matter such as the postman being ten minutes late can lead an aging parent into a state of extreme panic. Baby boomers should try and maintain patience with their aging parents and find healthy ways to relieve their own stress to have the energy to assist their elderly parents in need.
2. Recognize that your elderly parent’s world is constantly changing.
It is scary for anyone to age. Our reflexes become slower, the sharpness of our vision weakens, and we begin to lose track of our memories. These alarming changes can bring on many feelings such as lack of control, anxiety, depression, and fear. Many times, seniors are embarrassed or have difficulty accepting these changes and will try to mask them from loved ones. They will leave an occasion earlier, so others do not notice how slow they are moving, or they will create systems to remember where they placed certain items or what they had planned to do on a certain day. While watching parents age is extremely difficult for adult children, it is important to remember that your parents are also facing many difficult changes in their life to cope with. Doing your best to stay strong for your parent and be there to help them cope with their changing reality will make you better communicate with them throughout the aging process.
3. Be proactive and supportive.
Even as you begin to accept that your parents are now elderly and are encountering new challenges, often times they themselves have not fully accepted that they have entered the elderly arena. Being emotionally supportive during this time will help your parents more easily accept the changes they are facing. Part of helping your parent accept the aging process is proactively and gradually devising plans to deal with changing circumstances. Being proactive will also help avoid more difficult situations that can arise in the future. For example, devising a plan to help your mom or dad carry groceries on a weekly basis can help prevent a fall that can lead to severe issues. Making sure to get your elderly parent a hearing aid when they begin having difficulty hearing others can help your parent avoid the feeling that they are losing their senses and prevent anxiety and depressive feelings about their changing abilities. As a baby boomer, being proactive instead of reactive is essential for helping your parents and will assure the entire family a smoother transition into the aging process.
At Alvita Care, we have home caregivers and geriatric care specialists available 24/7 to assist you throughout this process and arrange the utmost quality of care you want for your parents. It is important to remember that you are not alone throughout this process, and there are plenty of people and resources available to assist you and your family during these times.