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Ageing is a part of life and even if you acknowledge this truth of life, it still throws you off balance when it comes to your parents. It is hard to envision your parents becoming weak, but unfortunately, there is a large population of elders who are chronically ill, disabled or dealing with age-related diseases. In some cases, they might even require long-term care.
Research suggests that most caregivers are women. Females are generally considered to be more compassionate and empathetic, taking care of sick parents can be both challenging and draining. Sometimes, it begins with taking care of their healthcare needs and then moves on to other areas of their lives. You literally become a ‘parent to your parents’.
Caregivers can find themselves physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. In order to stay healthy and continue giving the best care to your parents, you must take out some time for self-care.
Here are some things that you need to keep in mind when you are a caregiver in order to stay mentally healthy:
If you want to become a caregiver to your sick parent, then you need some training. There are certain techniques you need to know because you’re the one responsible for their health. For instance, you need to learn how to move your parents from a bed to a wheelchair. It might sound very simple but you can’t do it properly if you do not know how to. You also need to ensure that your parents are safe.
In addition, you need to know how to cater to the emotional needs of your parents. For example, you need to understand what you can do if they are withdrawing, or don’t want to communicate. These are little things but are important when you are caring for a sick parent.
They say, “you can’t pour from an empty teacup”, and that’s true. If you are unable to take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your parents. Remember, you are not a machine and can’t work all the time. Caregiving, although rewarding in some ways, can be stressful and drive you crazy if you don’t take out time for yourself.
As a caregiver, you must engage regularly in your favourite hobbies that keep your mind refreshed and rejuvenated. You can also join a caregivers support group to understand how to navigate the situation better. Apart from indulging in these activities, you must also take care of your health. Eat healthy meals, exercise regularly, and sleep at the right time.
Remember to deal with your sick parent in a patient manner. They might need your help for the smallest of things, say tying their shoelaces or brushing their hair. You will also be required to help them take their medications regularly or even go to the bathroom.
Caregiving is all about patience. There will be so many times when your parents might not want to even get out of bed or bathe. If you do not exercise patience, they will not trust you and the situation might become even more difficult to handle.
When you are patient, caregiving also becomes stress-free, helping you avoid burnout.
Friends and family can start distancing themselves when they think you are too stressed or busy. Nurturing friendships and family relationships takes effort, and you have to take the lead. So, try and call your friends over for a meal at home or meet them for a walk. You could even have a fun conversation with them over the phone. Let your friends and family know what’s happening in your life, and tell them you’d love to stay in touch.
Caregiving can be made doable only and only if you’re taking care of yourself.