The Key to Helping Your Parents

Make time to take care of yourself.

There’s only so much you can do.

That’s another reality of life with aging parents. So much of what happens and when it happens is beyond your control.

What you do have some control over is your resilience — your ability to keep showing up and manage the uncertainty, fear, and frustration, so it doesn’t blind you to opportunities for joy and connection.

Caregiver creep and caregiver burnout are real. And so are the consequences if you hit that wall. For you. Your parents. And your entire family.

Want to keep showing up without shutting down? Make time to take care of yourself. Especially if you don’t think you need to.

How to Get Started

Take a micro-moment. Gerontologist Sarah Teten Kanter, Ph.D., prescribes a variety of quick self-care practices that support physical, mental, and emotional well-being. How quick? Many take between five seconds and five minutes.

“It may feel like all you have time for is micro-moments,” writes Kanter, “but those tiny pockets of time can still be incredibly powerful for restoring you and helping you find the headspace…to experience positive emotions and all the mental and physical benefits they provide.”

Ask your siblings for help. You might be the primary caregiver, but that doesn’t mean you have to be the only one. Give your brother a chance to cover for you for an evening or a weekend. Maybe he can’t or won’t. But you’ll never know until you ask. Here’s how.

Give yourself a break with respite care. When friends and family aren’t an option, consider hiring an in-home companion or home health aid for temporary coverage. 

Companion care focuses on friendship, conversation, and social connection. It is strictly non-medical and hands-off. Companions may be able to prepare a meal, but they don’t do any personal grooming or help with toileting. 

Home health aids are trained (and preferably certified) to help with dressing, bathing, feeding and toileting. They can remind dad to take his meds, but they can’t administer drugs.

You can hire companions and home health aids through care agencies or independently. Finding the right person can take time. So the more you know about your options and what to look for, the better. Start with this excellent guide.

In-home respite care isn’t covered by Medicare. But paying for peace of mind so you can go to dinner with friends, getaway overnight, or take a walk to clear your head is always less expensive than the cost of burning out.

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Thanks for caring,

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