How to Take Care of Aging Parents When You Can’t Be There
Old age comes with its unfair share of medical ailments and constant need for love and support. The dilemma for most children is choosing between being there for their parents versus attending to their personal commitments. If you are one of them, read on to find out how to strike a fine balance to care for your aging parents when you can’t be there.
Humans are social creatures. It’s in their DNA. They survive and thrive on their connections and love being around people who understand them, accept them for who they are and who show willingness to spend time with them. This is the basic need. Of course there are realms of self-love and ‘being whole’ that are gaining momentum, but the road uphill is a hard one and not all of us have achieved the nirvana of being absolutely at home with just ourselves. Let’s face it.
It gets even harder for the older ones. As age catches up, the pangs of loneliness and social isolation hits harder and no amount of advice from well-meaning family members seems to work. The yearning eyes and weary hands nestled restlessly on a mundane rocking chair silently scream only one story if carefully heard. It’s a simple story of wanting someone to be ‘there’ that’s all.
Old Age Caring Dilemna
This is the familiar scenario no son or daughter can deny being privy to. When it comes to parents the dilemma is real. They want you to be with them while your life beckons you someplace else. And on one quiet evening when your hectic schedule gives you permission to sit back and relax, there are questions that keep tugging at your heart which refuse to go away.
Are they taking their medicines on time? Are they eating well enough? Is their laundry and personal hygiene being taken care of? And the most important one- Are they safe? And the answers your brain comes up with are very different from what your heart fears. Ask yourself one more question- are they happy? And it will probably break your heart into a million pieces.
So what do you do?
Should you feel guilty for earning a livelihood? For spending time with your kids and spouse? For squeezing out some ‘me time’ for yourself? or should you just reach out for some help?
6 Best Ways to Provide Care for the Elderly
1- Hiring a full/ part time caregiver to take care of their needs and be a companion.
2- Getting a full/part time nurse to attend to them personally and medically (especially if they are dealing with a chronic health condition).
3-Scheduling quality time with them at least once a week or month.
4- Investing in elder safety devices that prevent hazards and send alerts in case of any emergency.
5-Signing-up with elder care groups that send volunteers regularly to check on them, run errands for and spend time with them.
6-Admission in an assisted living facility or in an continuum care centre that offers 24/7 nursing & caregiving services, medical supervision, meal and laundry support, with physiotherapy and psychological intervention.
The social stigma in hiring help
‘Hiring help’ is taboo for most. Humans are conditioned to always go that extra mile and do things selflessly for their loved ones. They aren’t good children if they don’t sacrifice their happiness for the sake of their parents. They aren’t good spouses if they don’t put their lives on hold to care for ailing spouses. They aren’t good parents if they don’t hover over their kids and tend to their every need. And so they keep going, getting torn apart between their sense of duty and desires. The result is no rocket science -The relatives are very happy. Yes! We see you nodding in disgust already. Only the relatives benefit because for the person who is caregiving, the burnout due to the constant strain is enormous. This given their physical and mental limitations which forces them to give up mid-way in despair. This unfortunately not only hurts them but also their loved ones who have by now set their expectations higher.
Points to be considered before hiring a healthcare assistant or caregiver
Hence the first block to clear before hiring help is a mental one and it’s time for a shift. It’s time to accept that you are a regular human without any supernatural abilities and reach out for assistance. It doesn’t make you a lesser human.
The second block is probably the dilemma if the help being hired is trustworthy and worth the spend. India with its openness towards various foreign cultures and practices has thankfully opened its arms wide to the trends in the healthcare industry as well. Continuum care and rehabilitation as concepts that were initially unheard of are gaining momentum. They offer premium care for elders that includes taking care of their daily needs as well as specialized care in case of any medical ailments. These centers also have caretaker and nursing services available for homecare. The staff is certified, there is regular monitoring and thorough quality checking.
So there it is then. You have multiple options to choose from. All you have to do now is pause, reflect and open your heart and mind to a different approach. It may be the one you were waiting for since a long time and may finally lead you to the happiness and peace you deserve.
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