Your Elderly Parent:
Taking the Stress
Out of Caring

By M. Chris Wolf, PH.D.

Your Elderly Parent may eventually need help. However good residential nursing care might be, you may opt to look after your parent at home for as long as possible. They feel mom or dad will be happier in a home environment rather than an institutional setting, whether that home is the parent's or their own. Being among familiar people and surroundings may comfort their elderly parent and perhaps help reduce confusion.

Nevertheless, it can be upsetting to watch a loved one as they become more frail and confused, facing the inevitability of life's end. Added to this may be frustrations in dealing with mental confusion and repeated questions from the elderly person who cannot remember having already asked what is for lunch or where a family member has gone. Constant attention is required in case the elderly parent should leave a pan on the stove, or go outside, wander away and not remember where they live. Not only is the caregiver tied to the home in these cases, but he or she may also experience guilt because of impatient feelings toward a loved one.

The first step in welcoming an older parent into your home is to consider physical needs. Will mom or dad be able to manage the stairs? Will the wheelchair go through the doorways? Is the bath or shower suitable for use by a physically frail person? A variety of aids are available for helping elderly people with limited mobility, from stair and chair lifts to bed sticks and grab-handles. Contacting your local health department can help you find out more about mobility and care aid options.

Caring for an elderly person will mean changes in your lifestyle. Perhaps one of the most difficult is being tied to the home for much of the time. Outings may be difficult if your elderly parent is mobility challenged, confused, or perhaps suffers from incontinence. Holidays can also be a trying time.

Caregivers commonly report being tired, a result of the hard physical work involved in helping an elderly person get about, dress themselves, perhaps use the toilet, and the necessity of being "on duty" 24 hours a day. Often elderly people need attention at night, because they cannot get to the toilet by themselves or cannot sleep, leading to exhaustion for the care giver. Check with the health department to see what respite care is available, and find out if there are day centers nearby where your parent can go to socialize while you have a little down time.

Also visit:

Sundown Syndrome

Home Instead Senior Care

Handing Stress

Return from Elderly Parent to Caregiver Stress


Memory Loss Facts

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