Taking care of elderly relatives can feel like a privilege – an opportunity to pay back parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles for the love and care they’ve given in the past. However, it is important not to underestimate the emotional and physical impact looking after the elderly can have on the carer. Follow these tips to ensure you don’t burn out.
Emotions play a big part in how and why we choose to care for our relatives and guilt and duty are a part of that. Be realistic about the support you can offer – if you have a career, young family, and home to run, can you truthfully commit to caring for your elderly relative as well? Be honest with yourself about how much time you can commit, then seek help from other family members, friends, or home help/care services if needed.
Staying well-nourished and hydrated is vital if you are caring for others, particularly the elderly who may need physical assistance with mobility and toileting. Carry healthy snacks such as muesli bars and fruit and plenty of water for when you’re in need of a fuel boost. Prepare meals in advance and freeze them so you don’t have to cook from scratch when you’re tired.
Caring for an elderly relative can be all-consuming but, as the old saying goes, you can’t fill from an empty cup. Make time for yourself, whether than be watching your favorite movie, going to the ball game or baking cupcakes. Meditating can be a great way to unwind when things are stressful and apps like Calm can be a good introduction for anyone who is new to mindfulness. If your loved one lives with you it can be particularly hard to switch out of carer-mode. A spell of respite can be beneficial for both you and your relative, allowing you to recharge and your loved one a change of scene.
When your loved one needs more than you can offer, knowing the best assisted living options in your area can be a weight off your mind. Places like Brandywine Living have specialist facilities to provide your relative with the best possible care in their golden years and ensure they enjoy life. Assisted living can give your loved one a whole new social life as well as provide you with peace of mind. Experienced staff and other residents become friends in assisted living environments, meaning your relative can mix with others and enjoy activities such as crafts, quizzes, and games.
It can be difficult to sleep when your mind is whirring, and it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day but do prioritize rest. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and aim to get at least seven hours of sleep. If you struggle to fall asleep, a gentle yoga workout and milky drink before bed can help.
Most of all, be kind to yourself. Caring for elderly loved ones is a challenge and can be emotionally and physically draining. You can only do your best.