As we get older, our parents are getting older, too. And while we may not be caring for our parents, we may have to discern how to help someone caring for an elderly parent. Caring for elderly parents can be an all-consuming season of life. Support for friends in this season can be simple acts of kindness or can look like coming alongside them in the care.
Watching someone give everything to care for their elderly parent can be difficult. With all of their focus on their parent, you may see them decline in energy and enthusiasm, neglect and withdraw from normal patterns of life, and even grow in feelings of hopelessness. It’s good and right to want to help during these times, though it can be difficult to know how. Here is some guidance on how to best show support.
Be an Ear to Listen and a Voice to Encourage
When someone is caring for an elderly parent, they may be hearing a lot of internal chatter. Frequently wondering if they are doing the right thing or if it’s making any difference, sometimes listening and encouraging will be the best support.
Let them know they are doing a good job and mention ways you see them making a difference. Offer to sit and chat with them about how they’re doing and let them pick a time that works for them. Tell them you appreciate them and ask if there is anything you can do to help.
Tackle Some Lingering Tasks
In this season of full investment, there may be a list of things they simply haven’t gotten to. By offering to help, you can take some of the pressure off their shoulders, and allow them a bit more room to breathe.
This might look like writing a grocery list and stocking that empty fridge, cooking dinner for them and their parent once a week, washing some of the piled-up laundry, or running some errands and picking up medication. Little things like these will help them to feel supported and less hopeless.
Sacrifice Some Time to Help to Provide Care
Sometimes the work may be too much for them to manage themselves, and what would be best for them is for you to help with the care of their elderly parent. While you may not be able to give all of your time for support, even a day’s worth will provide relief.
This can look like taking a Saturday to scrub the bathrooms and tidy the house, spending the day with their parent and allowing your friend to take some time to recharge, or even staying the night to help navigate the graveyard shift. Bigger supports like these will remind them they’re not alone.
Suggesting Appropriate Alternatives for Care
Perhaps the toughest part of supporting a friend through this time is knowing when it’s time to suggest an alternative method of care. Chances are they’ve thought of this themselves, but haven’t chosen another option because they aren’t familiar with the options available.
Trusting your parent to the care of someone else can be unsettling for some. Knowing if professional care is right for their parent can be difficult to discern. A practical way you can help them with this decision is by investigating the types of care available, and ultimately helping them choose the best option.
Understanding the Options
While someone caring for an elderly parent may not have time to investigate other options, you can help by doing the research for them. With the assortment of options available, taking the time to understand them on your friend’s behalf is an enormous support. Here’s a look at a few of the options.
- Assisted Living – Moving a parent to an assisted living facility allows them to maintain as much autonomy as they are capable of, while also providing them the care they need. Learn more about assisted living here.
- Independent Living – Choosing an independent living service allows their parent to go about their lives the way they’re used to without the worries of household maintenance. Learn more about independent living here.
- Long-Term Care – Long-term care provides a more extensive care for their parent in an environment designed for family and loved ones to stay for dinner. Learn more about long-term care here.
When You’ve Done All You Can Do to Care for an Elderly Parent
As you support your friend in providing care for their elderly parent, you may see that there is only so much they can provide. While they may feel it’s their duty to care for their parent, choosing the support of an assisted living facility is not neglecting that responsibility; on the contrary, it’s fulfilling it.
It’s important for them to be able to recognize when they’ve done all that they can do. As you gently help them see this, you can comfort them in assuring that assisted living is a quality, loving choice, and may be the best choice for caring for their parent.