It can be stressful and lonely caring for an aging parent. The endless appointments, piles of laundry, agitated behaviors, meals on the table, pills to dispense, answering the same questions over and over, siblings that don’t help or worse yet criticize your every move. If you haven’t already, you need to create some strategies that will help ease the stress of caring for your aging parent or loved one.
Consider building these strategies in to your every day routine and tap in to them before you reach your tipping point.
Build a Care Team
You cannot do this alone. I don’t care how skilled you are or how much you love your mom or dad you will need help to care for them. It can be informal or formal in the way of paid help but you need to create a routine that includes help. That can be friends that drive mom to her hair appointment or a paid housekeeper to clean the toilets. You may need the assistance of a paid caregiver to help with bathing or meal preparation. I’ve yet to meet anyone that can care for an aging parent 24 hours a day 365 days out of the year without the help of care team.
Resource: Lots of Helping Hands is an online service that can help you build and organize a care team. At the very least set up an account and start exploring the possibilities.
Surround Yourself with Peers
Find a support group or reach out to people you know who are in the same boat as you. I know it’s hard to reach out when you aren’t feeling like your best self but I have news for you other people in your shoes don’t care nor are they feeling great either so you have nothing to lose by reaching out to others. A good laugh or a good cry with someone that’s been there can go a long way in easing the stress. Caring for an aging parent can be a lonely place and no one understands that quite like another caregiver.
Resource: My favorite online support forum is at agingcare.com. You can find peers there any time day or night. I find the folks there to be supportive, non-judgmental and full of information that can help. Click here…
Create Moments of Respite
Typically we think of respite as a lengthy break of 24 hours or more but think of the impact simple moments of respite throughout your day could make. An activity for you alone that can provide you with a break from caregiving. Walk around the block, read a book, coffee break, hair cut, retail therapy, exploring art… Whatever brings meaning to you and provides you with a break from your caregiving duties; do it!
Let Go of Perfection
If you’re a perfectionist, please learn to let it go. A perfect day does not exist in the world of caring for an aging parent. Without a doubt, you will have moments of joy and happiness but there will always be laundry to do, appointments to make, things to worry about so understand this. There is no perfectionism in caregiving and you are going to drive yourself nuts if you remain on the hamster wheel of perfection, so get off of it.
Stop Being a Martyr
Being a martyr is not a healthy way to get your needs met. Suffering and expecting others to read your mind will not only set you up for resentment and anger but it will push away the people you should be depending on the most. Consider setting boundaries and putting yourself in the position of being empowered versus being victimized. Find ways to set healthy boundaries; learn when to say yes and when to say no. A caregiver stuck in the cycle of being a martyr is destined to become stressed out.
Checking back over this list do you see any strategies that may work for you? Can you pick one that you can weave in to your daily or weekly routine?
If you can’t imagine practicing these strategies on a day-to-day basis, consider posting them on your refrigerator and use them to hit your reset button…
Do you have a secret for dealing with stress? Questions about the above suggestions? You could help other caregivers by sharing your thoughts in the comment section.