Living with your elderly parent or parents can be a daunting proposition, but at times it’s a necessary one. At Seniors Helping Seniors, we offer a unique blend of senior assisted living services by having elderly peers be the caretakers on our staff. We find this is an optimal solution because it makes daily struggles relatable and therefore less embarrassing. Our goal is to provide safety and comfort, but never at the price of taking dignity away from our clients.
Perhaps you find yourself in a position where you are living with your elderly family member, or are considering having them make the big move. If you are in that decision-making process, we ask you to consider our in-home senior care services amongst your options. In today’s post, we will be offering some advice for those of you who wind up going the route of living under the same roof as your loved one. This isn’t always a seamless transition; in fact it can be a very emotional and tumultuous time for all parties involved.
Accept The Reality Of The Situation
Things change. Role reversal can be a challenging prospect, considering you will now be taking care of someone who made you, raised you, and financially supported you to some degree for a large portion of your formative years. Emotions will run high on both sides, so do your best to put yourself in the shoes of your mom or dad. This can’t be easy on them, feeling like they are losing control. Give them the benefit of the doubt as much as you are able.
Keep Your Expectations Low
If you can keep your emotional expectations low, you won’t be as disappointed when things go awry. Who knows, you might even be pleasantly surprised if the assisted living situation goes fair to midland. Start slowly, because taking care of your elderly loved one tends to be more of an emotional marathon than a sprint. Do your best to not force your agenda on the situation, but be attentive to the needs of your loved one. Typically they will respond in turn with kindness and empathy, which of course will make your life a whole lot easier.
Expect Some Nastiness
They are your parents. You love them. They love you. That doesn’t mean this is going to be easy. In moving in with you, your loved one is going to be losing the one thing they’ve always had over you; authority. Sometimes losing control causes the best of us to lash out. But keep in mind even though their anger is directed at you, it isn’t about you, it’s about them dealing with changes in their life.
We’ve talked about how your loved one may feel like he/she is losing control. What you can do is empower them with making as many decisions for themselves as possible. It might be tempting to try to lay down a laundry list of ground rules - after all it is your house. But try to affirm their decisions and encourage their livelihood where you can. They may not be able to consciously process all of the emotional changes occurring under the surface, but it would be completely natural to feel like a burden on your household. Whether they are or aren’t, let them know you value them, let them know they matter to you.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
If you are the type of person who would open your home to your loved one, then it probably follows that you might be prone to forgetting to take care of yourself. The bottom line is that you won’t be able to take care of your parent very well if you forgo self-care. Remember, in-home senior care is a long-term thing, so fight burnout as much as humanly possible.
Find An Outlet To Vent
It’s important to remember that you aren’t trapped in this situation. You can communicate and vent about the frustrations that may arise with someone outside of your family too. You can confide in a therapist, friend, or even an online support group to explore your feelings about the matter, which ultimately can provide clarity if you are considering making a big change.
Dealing With Dementia
Forget about getting praise, attention, or recognition on any level if your loved one is in the throes of dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. That is easier said than done, however. That’s why you and your family members will have to remind one another that your loved one’s brain function is not at a normal level. Cognitive impairment can sometimes mean that your efforts, both big and small, will be ignored. In fact, negative behavioral changes are a fairly common occurrence for people dealing with dementia. If you have gotten to the end of your rope with your loved one, don’t wait until the family unit breaks down completely. It may be time to ask for some help. After all, that’s what your loved one has had to do as well.
Take A Break
Do not feel guilty about needing a vacation, or at least a weekend away. We can get so wrapped up in caregiving, planning appointments, directing caregivers, and our own set of problems, that we forget to stop and take a breath. If you can’t get away, do something you really love to do but maybe haven’t done in a while: painting, golfing, maybe eating pizza and ice cream...you get the idea.
Make Sure Your Home Is Senior-Friendly
In a perfect world an older adult will live on the first floor so that stairs won’t be an issue. If that isn’t reasonable, it might be time to consider installing an automatic stair lift. For resources on that, we recommend a simple internet search for electric stair lifts. In the same vein, if you have stairs leading up to your front door, you might have to install a ramp, which can cost upwards of $400. Here are some other in home factors to consider:
- Is there a bathroom on the same floor as the older adult’s room?
- Does that bathroom have a walk in shower?
- Is the bathroom door wide enough to handle a walker or wheelchair? (Note: the doorway must be at minimum 32 inches wide for most wheelchairs to pass through)
- Is everyone happy (or at least mildly agreeable) about the living arrangements?
- Are the requisite renovations going to be financially worth the move?
In reference to the last point about renovations that may need to happen for your older adult to be comfortable and safe, this is one of the reasons Seniors Helping Seniors exists. We are in the business of making your life easier by making your senior’s life more comfortable, safe, and dignified. It may not be the right time for you and your family, but we believe that our in-home senior care services promote independent living for our clients, and free up time for your family so you can get back to spending quality time with your entire family, including your senior. Please consider us at Seniors Helping Seniors amongst your nursing home, assisted living, and home health care options. Call us today so we can learn more about you and your family’s situation.