Time flies and without you realizing it, you are now an adult working and building your young family. Everything is going on well and in your equation of life, your parents will live long and healthy. They will never be a bother in your life. In their golden years, they will be traveling the world and living the comfortable retired life.
You wake up from your idealist world and stare into reality. There sit your parents who can hardly help themselves or remember their own name, reality hits you. The role has reversed. You are now the “parent” (caregiver) and your parent, the “child”.
Being a caregiver
This is something that no one ever prepares you for. There are numerous amounts of books, websites, free advise from friends and family on how to take care of a child/toddler but hardly any for an elderly person. It is something that no one thinks about until it hits you. The initial shock, adjustment period in being a caregiver requires a lot of patience and sacrifice in your part. Your entire life changes in that one instant.
Preparation, preparation, preparation…
Being a caregiver to the elderly requires preparation, much like preparing oneself to be a parent. Research and preparation of the home and the parent’s room should be done immediately to keep your loved one comfortable. This also depends on the severity of their condition; being bed-ridden, with Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimers, etc.
As a caregiver, you need to devote time for both yourself as well as your ‘kids’. Therefore, it is essential to make a timetable to take care of the elderly if they are at home and if possible, also get your family members. involved. This timetable basically includes timings of the medications and the meals to be given. Most essentially because the elderly need to be given small portions of meal as frequently as 6 times a day to meet their nutritional requirements. Salt and sugar intake has to be under control at all times.
Have some “me” time
It is essential for a caregiver to set some personal time. This is very important as the physical and mental stress from caring for your elderly, will drain you of any energy left in you. Take time for breathe – go out for a walk, do yoga or just simple meditation techniques to calm yourself down.
Support is essential
Get involved with a support group of caregivers. This will be an avenue to share and open up about your challenges with other caregivers within the group. The support from the group is important to maintain your sanity and give you the moral support to continue being a caregiver.
Caring for your elderly really is a daunting task and not to be taken lightly. Unlike a toddler, there are no cute factors here to ease the process. It is a challenge both psychologically and physically. Don’t be afraid, there are avenues out there to assist you.