We all age. We’re aging better, in fact, as life expectancy continues to grow and we remain more vital for longer. However, with that longer life expectancy comes a longer period of time where we might not be entirely able to look after ourselves. With the stresses and responsibilities of modern society, how do we find time to stand by the older loved ones in our lives without burning ourselves up in the sacrifices that might be involved?
Help them look after themselves
The best approach to any health issue is a proactive one and the same goes for aging. Rather than feeling like the whole world is dumped on your shoulders, talk to your parents or other older relatives about their health and what they might be able to do to help look after themselves. If they get more active in safe, low-impact way, make efforts to have a more balanced diet, and find opportunities to socialize, they can stay in better health for much longer. You can also make changes in their life that make it easier for them to stay independent. For instance, you can make the home more accessible with stair-lifts, shower rails, and the like. That sense of independence is an important mental health issue for many in the later stages of their life, so do what you can to foster it.
Be a member of the team, not the only player
You might want to take a proactive role in helping your older loved ones with all the practical needs and aspects of their life. If you take on too much at once, however, you can burn yourself out. Instead, look at how to better get the help you need. Educate yourself on their needs by visiting the doctor with them if they allow it. Take a back seat and look into the help on offer from services like a quality of life rehabilitation center, too. There are many different people who can help look after the practical needs and ensure they get the therapy that will help them stay healthier for longer. As family, you might be one of the few who can provide real emotional comfort. Know your role.
Look after yourself, too
Caring for an older loved one can be stressful. If you’re a caregiver, the full-time nature of the job can lead to burnout, as mentioned. But the stress of seeing those we love suffer from deteriorating health can have a large psychological impact, too. It’s important to take care of your own mental health and realize when you, too, might need help. Don’t feel like you have to “stay strong” for the sake of your family. If you try and ignore the problem for too long, it will grow insurmountable.
It takes a village to raise a child, as they say, and it might take one to ensure we’re looking after our elderly properly, as well. Beyond the points above, remember that there is financial aid available to anyone who is working as a caregiver for their older relatives. Take advantage of what you can; every little helps.