As a child, your parents always took care of you. It never occurred to you at that point in your life that one day, you might need to do the same for them. It can be a difficult transition, but we make it easier by discussing below how your role in the family changes as your parents age and how you can give your parents the best care possible without sacrificing your own self-care.
How Your Family Caregiving Role Evolves
Family caregiving stages often progress as follows:
Awareness stage: You take your parents to doctor appointments, do small errands, check in, and communicate concerns regarding your parent’s condition and treatment with their healthcare provider.
Unfolding responsibility stage: You closely monitor your mom or dad’s symptoms and medications, take control of their household tasks and finances, hire care providers, and provide emotional support.
Increasing care demands stage: You start monitoring your mom or dad’s behavior and location and begin assisting them with self-care tasks such as dressing or bathing.
End of life care stage: You begin advance care planning such as preparing your parent for hospice, minimizing their suffering, and making them comfortable in their final days.
Tips to Avoid Family Caregiver Burnout While Caring for Mom or Dad
Protecting yourself from family-caregiving burnout starts by making self-care a priority and ends with fully understand your aging parent’s conditions. Let’s look at some tips on how to do just that.
Caring for Yourself
Twenty-five to 50 percent of family caregivers are clinically depressed—six times more than the national average. For you to show up day in and day out as the loving, patient, and dedicated person you strive to be for your aging parent, you must prioritize your self-care. This means:
- Taking care of your health by eating a balanced diet, exercising, seeing a doctor when health concerns arise and for yearly checkups, exercising, and other activities that keep you at the top of your game.
- Carving out daily time to focus on you, even if just for six minutes, as described in “The Miracle Morning” by Hal Elrod.
- Becoming aware of negative thoughts that aren’t serving you, such as “I don’t have time to exercise,” and working on beliefs that allow you to become the caregiver you aspire to be. Brooke Castillo of The Life Coach School offers free practical advice on this subject in her podcast.
Caring for Mom or Dad
Though it may be difficult on an emotional level to do so, it’s vital to take an objective look at your parent’s cognition, fall risk, mobility, and fragility so that you can provide the best level of care. How can you do this?
- Have an informed discussion with Mom or Dad’s healthcare provider about how conditions may progress, what that means for activities of daily living, and what you can do to help.
- Understand the gravity and complexity of your parent’s condition so that you’re aware of their limitations. A physical therapist can provide a comprehensive evaluation of your loved one’s movement, strength, coordination, balance, and much more to give a complete picture of their physical function and risks.
PTs will also provide at-home exercises to mitigate or reduce the effects of physical deficiencies and track progress at future visits. Call Heather Lane Physical Therapy today at 720-507-3962 to schedule your mom or dad’s appointment.