In this day and age, people are waiting longer to have children and as a general rule, people live longer lives than in the past. These factors, plus the cost of nursing home care, mean more and more parents of young kids are taking care of their elderly parents at the same time.
In addition, some parents find themselves taking care of grandchildren and elderly parents at the same time. And even those who have no one else to care for except their elderly parents can get very burnt out.
How do you maintain balance? Here are some tips on balancing your life when you're taking care of elderly parents.
Make a Schedule
One of the traps it's easy to fall into is the "I have to be with my parent every minute" trap. Every minute you're not with your elderly parent you feel like you should be. This results in never enjoying your time away from them! And you do have to take some time away from them.
Every situation is different, of course; but it's helpful to sit down and work out a schedule of visiting and helping. If you need to hire someone or call on a friend or family member to watch your folks while you get away, do so (more on that later). The point is, for your peace of mind, go ahead and schedule in "away" time so you can recuperate. Only you know how much or little you need, but some time away every day is ideal. No need to feel guilty - you scheduled this "you time" in, remember?
Seek Out Friends and Family
Not everyone can afford to hire someone to care for their elderly parents. And even if you can afford it, it's hard to find someone reputable. As well as that, many elderly folks do not want a stranger to be helping. So now is the time to call on your community - family (even extended family), friends, neighbours...anyone whom you know to be reliable and capable.
If you don't have family close by, try to make arrangements for them to come into town on a regular basis. You could even send your elderly parent to the other family's home for a while, and trade caregiving responsibilities.
It's okay to ask for help. You can't do this alone, nor should you be expected to.
Caring for an elderly parent can be overwhelming. Consider talking to a counsellor about it. It can really help to "vent," and the counsellor can help you discover some coping strategies.
There's no doubt that this is a significant time in your life. Some think of it as "giving back," while others just think of it as their duty. However you approach it, finding balance while taking care of elderly parents is key.