Ageing is an undeniable part of life and it is a fact that as one grows older, one tends to lose body strength. This in turn, affects the ability of the elders to take care of themselves. It also results in increased dependency; elderly parents have to seek help from their children for daily tasks. This may range from assisting them in their daily routine tasks to helping them perform specific activities like buying groceries, stepping out to socialise, managing their household and so on. Old age is when parents need their children to take care of them with love and respect.
While the sentiment behind caring for aging parents comes from a place of love and care, it is not always easy to do so; it requires a certain amount of expertise and can bring its own set of challenges.
Taking Care of Elderly Parents
Taking care of your elderly parents can be quite overwhelming at times, not just for you but also for them. Your parents are trying to deal with the fact that they have to depend on their children and seek help even for the smallest tasks.
When taking care of your parents who are unable to look after themselves, the onus falls on you to adapt to the challenges thrown your way, providing the best possible care while also managing your own schedule. These challenges are not just emotional, where you have to ensure your parents are comfortable, but can also be of a financial nature, where you need to make sure that you are able to provide the right healthcare at the right time.
Discussed below are some of the most common challenges that individuals may face while taking care of elderly parents along with how one can tackle various situations when caring for aging parents.
Common Challenges Faced while Caring for Aging Parents
1. Helping with Daily Tasks
Most elders like to take care of themselves and do not want to depend on others for help. However, this becomes difficult as people reach the age of 70 and above, or in cases where people are otherwise capable but suffer from health issues that make it difficult for them to remain independent. At some point, elderly parents need assistance with their daily tasks, like managing the house, dealing with their finances, shopping, meal preparation, etc. In many cases, it can impact their personal life, especially when they are living away from their parents.
2. Ensuring their Safety
Be it health or financial security, elderly people are more vulnerable and hence require assistance at every step. Being there with them all the time is not possible and most parents do not want to be sent to a retirement home, so children need to ensure that they are taking care of elderly parents at home whilst providing them with a safe and secure living environment. However, lack of communication and other life commitments are things that can sometimes lead to mishaps and mismanagement.
3. Dealing with Health Issues
As mentioned earlier, advancing age can affect an individual’s health. They may develop various health issues and chronic conditions that make them weak and vulnerable. This would call for regular monitoring, medication, and sometimes even emergency assistance. Obviously, working children with aging parents at home mostly face difficulties in being there for them all the time. Therefore, children need to ensure a viable healthcare support system for their parents.
4. Financial Stability
Elders above the age of 60 are often retired, unless they have taken up a part-time job. With retirement, elders lose their permanent source of income and have to rely on their savings or pension and frequently require support from their children. Due to degenerative illness, some elders even lose their capacity to manage financial affairs and become vulnerable to exploitation. With this, it becomes crucial for children to take care of their financial needs and help manage their funds as well. But lack of time among working children caring for elderly parents makes it difficult for them to effectively look after their parents’ financial affairs.
5. Quality of Living
Ensuring good quality of life is a crucial part of taking care of older parents. It’s not just healthcare either as elders require EMOTIONAL support, a social life, and everything else that goes into leading a contented life. However, working children or those who are living away from home face difficulties in doing so. Being away from home or being occupied with their own commitments, can lead to insufficient interaction with their parents, leaving the elders with no one to talk to. This loneliness, if prolonged, can cause depression and anxiety in elders.
6. Emergency Assistance
In addition to providing the right healthcare and ensuring quality living, caring for aging parents also requires being able to provide emergency assistance, especially when old parents have severe health issues or are bedridden. However, this becomes a challenge with working children if there is no one to look after the parents once they step out. The situation can get alarming when immediate assistance is needed.
7. Sacrifices at Work
There are situations where children have to sacrifice their work when caring for their aging parents. As discussed in some points above, it becomes difficult to manage work and take care of elderly parents at the same time. Today's work commitments are such,that you have to travel a lot or stay away from home for long periods of time, which makes it difficult for them to be with their elderly parents. While some try to manage things in whichever way possible, others might have to look for jobs in their home state or choose less demanding jobs. In some cases, children may even need to quit their jobs for some time to take care of their parents.
Are You Taking Care of Older Parents?
Caring for older parents can sometimes be overwhelming because of the challenges that may come your way. However, here are some tips that can help you face those challenges and take care of old parents, ensuring there is no emotional or financial stress.
1. Understand Their Needs
Taking care of elderly parents can be quite difficult if you do not understand their needs and requirements. For starters, analyse their situation and think about what you can do to fulfil their needs, whilst managing your own personal and professional life. Below are the key areas that you can consider to best understand their needs:
● Their social interactions
● Their daily activities and core tasks
● Their health and medical needs
● The emotional and financial support they need
2. Assess Your Situation
No matter how much you want to be there with your old parents, it is sometimes difficult to do so with all your other responsibilities. So, before you make any assumptions about your situation and abilities and make any further commitments, it would be advisable to think about the following points:
● Does your job allow you to be there with them?
● Does your health allow you to take responsibility?
● What are the relationship dynamics between you and your parents?
● Are you willing to learn the best ways of taking care of your old parents?
3. Talk to Your Parents
Nothing is stopping you from talking to your parents even if you live in a different country. Take out some time from your schedule, maybe after work, and ask them about how they spend their time, how they feel about things, and seek their opinion on the same. It is essential that you make them feel important instead of just a dependent. Show your love and concern – interact and question.
● How was their day?
● Did they eat and sleep well?
● Are there any concerns they wish to raise?
4. Encourage Them for Social Gatherings
Depression because of loneliness is common among elders. You need to ensure that they do not feel lonely even when you are away. The same technology that makes it possible for you to call them anytime and anywhere can also give them the ability to connect with others. They can easily meet and greet their local friends and family members and call those living in a different region or country.
Here’s what you can do to improve your parents’ social connectedness:
● Introduce them to the world of internet
● Organise activities and events of their interest
● Help them join online and offline elderly communities
5. Consider Hiring Caregivers
If you think other things are not working for you and caring for your aging parents is still raising challenges, you can consider opting for elder support services that offer the assistance of trained and professional caregivers who can assist you in caring for your older parents. Since elders are mostly not familiar with the idea of caregiving services and may not like having a caregiver out of the family assisting them, you will have to make them understand its importance. Take the following things into account when doing so:
● Listen to their concerns
● Introduce the caregiver as their friend
● Give them time to get used to the idea
We all love our parents and no matter how far we are from them, they are always on our minds. Have they eaten well? Are they safe? Do they have any issues? Such questions keep crossing our minds and we want to do the best for them especially when they are older, to give them the best in their golden years. But change is inevitable and things cannot be the same forever. There are situations where we face challenges when caring for older parents, be it because of work or personal affairs.
When the right assistance is needed, especially when children are away from home, let professional caregivers be there for elders. Such caregivers are trained in caring for elderly parents and will be with them at every step. They can help enhance the quality of life for elders by securing and simplifying their daily life.
At EMOHA, we have established a community that helps elders stay connected with their loved ones even if they are miles away. Inspired by the joys and struggles of helping elderly parents, Emoha brings together world-class expertise and delivers easy access to a range of health, emergency, social-engagement, and convenience services at home so that elders can live their life to the fullest.