Do you have an elderly parent that looks to you for assistance with tasks that years or even months ago they could do independently? Have you had to navigate the healthcare system on their behalf? Are you learning all about retirement residences, nursing homes and long term care facilities – and what the differences are? Does it all seem like too much? Are you feeling overwhelmed? Too much to do? Not enough time? Juggling your own family and your parents and a career? Need some strategies for managing, so you can keep it all together for everyone who depends on you? Read on.
Self-Care. Who has time?
You need to make time for self-care. This means more than falling asleep in front of the television when you are completely exhausted. Self-care can be little things like:
- making a nutritious lunch for yourself
- walking for a few minutes at lunch, breathing deeply and enjoying the day we’ve been given
- reading a book for 30 minutes
- taking time to get a relaxing or therapeutic massage
- enjoying a bubble bath.
We all have things that make us feel better. Spend a few minutes on yourself. You will be more patient with your parents, your kids, your spouse and most importantly, yourself.
Often my clients look stumped when self-compassion is suggested. So what does self-compassion mean? In its simplest form, it means being nice to yourself. Be aware of all the negative messages that you send to yourself throughout the day. Don’t beat up on yourself if you are not as patient as you would like to be. Accept that you can’t be with your parent every moment that the are in the hospital, nursing home, or long term care facility and let go of the guilt. Read something inspirational around compassion and kindness. Post positive affirmations where you can read them or put them on your phone. Everything is easier when you are gentler with yourself.
Ask for help
Ask your partner, siblings, relatives, friends, and friends of your parents if they can help. Most people are more than happy to oblige, they just need to be asked. The expression, “it takes a village to raise a child” applies to elderly parents too. It takes a village to care for our parents as they age. Most of us have support systems. Think about how others can help. Perhaps:
- go for a visit, chat, play cards, work on a jigsaw puzzle, knit together, look at old photo albums/pictures
- take them to a routine medical appointment (doctor, dentist, audiologist, optometrist/ophthalmologist)
- accompany them on an organized excursion
- participate in an in-house activity (sing-a-long, games, pet therapy, exercise class)
If you want help managing your stress related to caring for a parent and developing effective coping strategies, please contact Annette Poechman. You can book an appointment with Annette right now. Annette is a Registered Psychotherapist, Certified Canadian Counsellor and Certified EMDR Therapist, helping individuals of all ages and stages, in the areas of Hamilton, Halton, Burlington and Oakville, Ontario. Listening. Guiding. Caring.