Support, guidance & advice for todays primary carers
From emotional support to financial implication, here’s how to make caring for an aged parent work
As our parents age, they may face a range of physical, emotional, and cognitive changes that can impact their independence and daily functioning. Tasks that were once simple and effortless for them may now require assistance or support. From managing medical appointments and medications to making the home safe, the responsibilities of caring for an elderly parent can be overwhelming.
As someone begins to advance towards old age, their body undergoes physical changes. Their strength diminishes, mobility may become limited, and chronic health conditions may arise. Simple tasks like getting dressed, walking up the stairs, or even preparing a meal can become arduous. Such changes often require carers to step in and provide practical assistance, adapt the living environment to ensure safety and facilitate access to necessary medical care.
Cognitive alterations are also part of the ageing process. Memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, and slower information processing become more common as individuals grow older. These changes can impact various aspects of daily life, such as managing finances, following medical instructions, or even recalling familiar faces and names. Understanding the cognitive challenges faced by ageing parents is crucial for carers to provide appropriate support, encourage mental stimulation, and implement strategies to enhance their overall well-being.
Recognising and addressing these challenges can significantly enhance the carers’s ability to assist their ageing parent in navigating life’s intricacies. By acknowledging the physical and cognitive changes, carers can approach their role with empathy and patience, fostering an environment that promotes dignity and independence for their loved ones. Additionally, understanding the specific needs and limitations of an ageing parent enables careers to identify appropriate resources and interventions, whether it’s arranging for in-home assistance, exploring memory enhancement exercises, or seeking professional medical advice.
Common challenges of caring for an aging parent
Caring for elderly parents is a task that requires of love, patience, and understanding. As individuals age, they often encounter a range of physical and emotional changes, making it crucial for carers to be fully aware of these transformations.
- Physical care needs
As parents age, they may encounter a decline in physical capabilities, ranging from limited mobility to chronic health conditions that can significantly impact an individual’s daily life. When caring for an aged parent, carers must navigate these physical changes by ensuring a safe living environment, helping with tasks that have become difficult, and coordinating medical care to maintain their parent’s overall health.
- Emotional support
The emotional well-being of ageing parents is a key concern. When caring for an aged parent they might grapple with grief, loneliness, or the loss of independence. It’s essential to provide a listening ear, encourage expression of emotions, and validate their feelings. Additionally, fostering social connections and encouraging participation in activities that bring joy and purpose can greatly enhance their emotional well-being.
- Financial strain
The financial aspect of caring for an ageing parent can pose significant challenges. Medical expenses, long-term care arrangements, and medication can create a financial burden for both the elderly parent and the carer. Navigating complex insurance systems, exploring available benefits, and seeking financial assistance when needed are essential steps in managing this challenge.
- Time management
Caring for an aged parent can be time-consuming, and striking a balance between personal life, career, taking care of a parent and other responsibilities is a substantial challenge. Creating a daily schedule, delegating tasks where possible, and considering part-time caring support can prove helpful in managing time effectively.
- Dealing with negative attitudes
Ageing parents may sometimes exhibit a negative attitude and difficulty in dealing with anger and emotions. It’s essential to approach these attitudes with understanding, knowing that they might stem from frustration or fear. Maintaining calm, providing reassurance, and seeking mental health support, if necessary, are strategies that can be employed.
- Loss of independence
One of the most significant challenges faced by caring for an aged parent is the loss of independence they may experience. Tasks they once handled effortlessly may now require assistance or delegation. This loss can be accompanied by feelings of frustration or a sense of burden. Carers should strive to empower their parents by involving them in decision-making processes, promoting autonomy wherever possible, and finding a balance between ensuring their safety and respecting their autonomy.
- Communication issues
As parents age, they may experience cognitive decline. This can make communication difficult, as they might not be able to express themselves clearly or understand what is being said. When caring for an aged parent, speaking slowly, using simple sentences, and employing non-verbal communication can facilitate better understanding. It’s also crucial to practise patience and not rush them through conversations.
- Medical knowledge and coordination
Caring for an aged parent often involves managing medications, appointments, and communicating with healthcare professionals, which can be daunting if you’re not familiar with the medical field. Keeping a record of medical history, medications, and upcoming appointments is beneficial. Communication with healthcare providers for clarifications and advice is also essential.
- Handling resistance
Elderly parents may sometimes be reluctant or resistant to receiving help, which calls for a delicate balance of assertiveness and compassion. To handle resistance, explain the reasons behind certain decisions and involve them as much as possible. Sometimes, involving a third party, such as a doctor or social worker, can also be helpful in these situations.
- Carer burnout
The demanding nature of caring for an ageing parent can take a toll on the carer’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Balancing caring responsibilities with personal life, career commitments, and self-care can become overwhelming. Recognising the signs of carer burnout and seeking support through respite care, support groups, or professional assistance is crucial to ensuring the carer’s well-being and their ability to provide effective care.
When an elderly parent gives up, it can compound these challenges. It’s important to encourage social interaction, involve mental health professionals, and sometimes make tough decisions on their behalf. Dealing with difficult elderly parents necessitates a well-rounded approach that considers the physical, emotional, and social aspects of their care.
The challenges in caring for an aged parent, especially if you’re taking care of both parents, are multifaceted and demand a comprehensive understanding of both the ageing process and the resources available. Whether it is navigating the emotional turmoil of a parent who feels they have lost their independence or dealing with negativity and sometimes outright resistance, the role of a carer and caring for an aged parent is a complex one. Through compassion, understanding, and appropriate support, caring for an ageing parent can become a more manageable and fulfilling task.
The demands of caring for an aged parent can impact other areas of the carer’s life, including their career, relationships, and personal well-being. Juggling work commitments while attending to the needs of an ageing parent can be overwhelming and may lead to stress. Maintaining healthy relationships and self-care often become neglected as the carer’s focus shifts towards their parent’s needs.
Despite the numerous challenges involved, caring for an ageing parent can also be a deeply enriching experience. It offers an opportunity for personal growth, deepening the bond between parent and carer, and can also create cherished memories. By recognizing the difficulties and seeking support, carers can find ways to navigate caring for an aged parent more effectively and enhance the quality of life for their ageing parents.
Summer 2023 Out Now
Care & Ageing Well Expo Melb 2024
Carer Gateway is an Australian Government program providing free services and support for carers. Call Carer Gateway for support and access to services, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm local time.
Assistance with accessing emergency respite is available any time, 24/7.
Sleepless Nights: Solutions for Sleep Problems
Aged care season and why we need to talk about it
Inclusive Adventures: Navigating Travel with Those You Care For
Is your loved one eligible for home care supplements and subsidies?
The power of positive ageing