As you get older, you often start to notice changes in your parents. It might be that they’re less stable on their feet or struggle to complete daily tasks on their own. We all know our parents’ health is likely to deteriorate as they age but it can still be a difficult fact to face. The roles change as you get older and you’re faced with taking care of your elderly parents.
With Christmas and festivities happening all around, this can be a time when families get together more often and for longer periods of time. This means you get to see each other more than you usually would when just visiting your elderly parents. You might start to notice old age appearing in your parents, and they may need extra support from you.
You might come to a sudden realisation that your parents are no longer as nimble as they once were. This is known as ‘S.L.O.MO’, which stands for ‘Suddenly Looking Older Moment’. It’s important to be able to recognise this and make sure unexpected behaviours are managed properly.
If you’re spending time with your elderly parents this year, you might want to consider these dos and don’ts:
What to do when spending time with your elderly parents this Christmas
- Get them involved in festive activities: Check out our festive activities article for inspiration.
- Plan ahead: take their needs into account. For example, a trip to the Christmas markets might sound fun but be mindful of any mobility issues and the hustle and bustle that’s to be expected.
- Pay attention to their mood: Christmas can be tough, and depression is quite common among the elderly at this time of year. Keep an eye on how they are feeling, and think about things you can do to lift their mood. Knowing that someone cares enough to listen is sometimes all that is needed.
- Check if they need anything: for example, check that all the radiators are working and that they are well-stocked for food. Even if they are relatively independent, they will likely still appreciate the offer to help out.
What not to do when spending time with your elderly parents this Christmas
- Force them into things: people cope with things differently, and getting older can change our comfort levels with things. Just because they used to enjoy loud or busy places, doesn’t mean they still do. Check with them when you’re planning things to make sure they’re happy and comfortable.
- Get impatient: having to wait for someone who moves slower or has difficulty doing things can be frustrating. Remember, your elderly parent is probably frustrated by it too! Try to be patient with them. They’re trying their best, and having someone, especially family, standing nearby tapping their watch is upsetting.
- Ignore their feelings: Christmas can be a difficult time of year for older people, especially emotionally. It gets cold and dark, and there can often be reminders of people they have lost. If they seem a little glum, don’t just write it off – ask them to talk about how they feel.
- Treat them like a child: even if they can be a bit difficult to deal with, remember that they are an adult and will want to be treated like one. This means not being patronising if they get a bit confused, and not making all of their decisions for them.
If you’re noticing changes in your elderly parents and think you might need to take care of them in the new year, this article might help you to get started. We’ve put together a checklist filled with helpful tips for taking care of your elderly parents.
Assess your elderly parent’s needs
The idea of taking care of your elderly parents can feel overwhelming especially as you might not be sure what they actually need.
Take a step back to understand how much help your parent needs. Think about these key eight areas:
- Family support
- Home safety
- Medical needs
- Cognitive health (e.g., memory loss)
- Personal hygiene
- Meal preparation
- Social interaction
Write everything down so that you can keep track of their needs and figure out what help is needed.
Think about your own needs and capabilities
Before you make any assumptions about taking care of your elderly parents, consider your own situation. Try to answer these questions:
- Does your health allow you to care for your parent?
- Do you live close to your parent or can they live with you?
- Would you want to live with your parent?
- Do you have the sort of relationship with your parent that you can spend a lot of time with them without creating any feelings of negativity?
- Are you willing to learn how to provide the level of care they need?
All of us want our parents to be safe and well looked after. However, it’s best, to be honest about your physical and emotional ability to commit to taking care of your elderly parent. If you take on too much, the situation won’t be sustainable and you will likely end up burnt out.
Include your parent in the process
Losing control of our life is a daunting prospect. That’s why it’s important to involve your parent as much as possible when planning their care.
They’re likely to be resistant in the beginning, so it will probably take multiple conversations. As long as they’re not in immediate danger, try not to force changes too quickly.
You might want to start with less intrusive approaches and increase the level of help as you go.
Consider financial situations
Caring for an elderly parent will cost money. It’s a good idea to estimate future costs so you’ll be prepared. Think about the medical care they’re likely to need, the cost of their potential living situation, and everyday costs like food, caregiving supplies, home safety modifications, etc.
Once you have an idea of their financial position, you’ll know if they’ll be able to afford the care they need or if they’ll need financial help.
Remove safety hazards
Preventing falls will go a long way to keeping your parent independent for as long as possible. Simple fixes include:
- Making sure all floors and walkways are clear of clutter, cords, and rugs
- Adding grab bars and stair railings
- Updating lights so all rooms are bright and switches are easily accessible
- Making sure all appliances work well and are within easy reach
- Minimizing the need to use step-stools or bend down low
Explore ageing care options
Taking care of your elderly parents can be an overwhelming responsibility. Fortunately, there are many ageing care options you can consider.
Live-in elderly care is an alternative elderly care option that addresses the desire of many elderly people to stay in their own home.
Live-in carers are trained to offer reliable one-to-one support around the clock. They fit their schedule around your loved one’s needs to promote independence. A live-in carer provides companionship, daily routine support, meal preparation and keeping the house tidy help. Whatsmore, it allows couples to stay together. In addition, your loved one receives care in the familiarity and comfort of their home, so there is no upheaval and no need to move home.
Taking care of your elderly parents – Mumby’s elderly care
We understand how difficult it is to see your parents getting older and frailer. Everyday activities become more difficult. Eventually, care is needed to keep them safe and help with their daily lives. Mumby’s elderly live-in care offers a reliable, expert and friendly solution to your ageing parent’s care needs in the familiarity of their home.