These tips on how to get more energy when you’re caring for elderly parents aren’t about eating well or getting enough sleep. You know that already! Rather, they’re practical and helpful suggestions for making changes in your life that will increase your time and energy levels.
I can’t give you enough information in this article, which is why I recommend The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for Persons with Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life. It’s a guidebook that provides all the practical and specific advice you need to make caring for elderly parents easier. The authors also describe how to improve the quality of life and life the whole family’s spirit.
How your elderly parents are reacting to this stage of life depends on their personalities, experiences, and state of mind. If your parents have Alzheimer’s or other cognitive health issues, read Caring for Elderly People With Lewy Body Dementia.
“I sit in the evening now on the edge of my Mom’s bed and listen to her telling me the stories of her life, many which relate to what she perceives as bad choices and regrets,” writes Marjorie Horne in Caregiving Transitions and Life Completion. “Erick Erickson’s description of the eighth stage of life reminds me to listen attentively and to also share with her the stories of how her creative and loving way helped all four of her daughters become caring adults and innovative thinkers.”
Sitting by your elderly parents’ bed and listening to stories isn’t the only responsibility you have, is it? Yes, you need to listen attentively…but you also need to take care of yourself.
How to Get More Energy When Caring for Elderly Parents
When you’re taking care of elderly parents, you may feel frustrated, impatient, and tired. Here’s how to get more energy – these 10 tips are inspired by a woman caring for her 91 year old mom.
1. Allow your parents time to adjust to outside help
“I am amazed at the unexpected gifts I am receiving after I started caring for my elderly parents,” says Marjorie. “Unsure of how my husband and I would adjust to this sudden transition, we gathered a Circle of Care team around us…every day I get to see firsthand how unconditional love and caring attention is transformational.”
If you can afford to hire a caregiver (which is one the best tips on how to get more energy when caring for elderly parents), you may meet resistance. Marjorie’s mother took a long time to feel safe and let go of her resistance to being supported and cared for. It helps to learn ways to bring your elderly parents on board with your plans.
2. Think about gathering a Circle of Care team
A team will support you and your elderly parents, and help you cope with the inevitable physical and mental challenges that caring for elderly parents brings.
“These supporters may be neighbors and friends, family members, professional caregivers, advocates and volunteers….” Marjorie says. “Seeing my Mom happy, relaxed and joyously connected to having her “team” around her daily, warms one’s heart in a way that can only be described as a miracle.”
“Caregiver stress can be degrading and demoralizing,” says B. Lynn Goodwin author of You Want Me To Do WHAT? – Journaling for Caregivers. “Avoid the downhill spiral. Start somewhere. Start anywhere. Take care of yourself and you’ll be a better caregiver to your loved one.”
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3. Attend free “Caring For Elderly Parents” seminars in your area
Many non-profit and government organizations have free info sessions on caring for elderly parents.
A good info session on caring for elderly parents will offer info on:
- Medicare Savings Program
- Healthy Living and Nutrition
- Funeral Considerations
- Pre-paid Insurance Policies and Trust Funds
- Legal Issues: Power-of-Attorney and Wills and Estate Issues
- Preparing for Probate from the Surrogate’s Office
- Presentation on Assisted Living
- Home health visits
- Medicaid Planning and Application
- Myths about dementia
- Discussions on the Reassurance Program, 2-1-1 Info Line, and Crisis/Suicide Support Line
If you can, take someone with you to an information session on caring for elderly parents. An extra set of ears and eyes will help ensure you hear and see everything.
4. Take lots of deep breaths
Slowing down helps your heart stop racing and clears your mind. Have a glass of lemonade or a cup of tea, and treat yourself to something sweet and delicious. Take it out on the patio or sit on the front stoop. You’d be surprised at the impact a five minute break – and a snack – is when you need to learn how to get more energy when caring for elderly parents.
You might even indulge yourself with a gift! Read 10 Thoughtful Gifts for Caregivers for ideas.
5. Call loved ones, just to chat
Make a list of people you miss. Do you have phone numbers? Addresses? A tip for caring for elderly parents is to pick one and reach out. Wouldn’t you like to hear from a long lost friend? If you don’t know who to call, consider The National Crisis Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) or the Alzheimer’s Association National Hotline (1-800-273-3900).
6. Join an online or face-to-face support group for people caring for elderly parents
Search the internet for “caregiver support groups” or “caring for elderly parents” and your city or town to find resources. They’ll have more tips on how to get more energy when you’re caring for elderly parents.
Ask other caregivers if they go to any stress management groups. Search in Yahoo groups or AARP for other caregivers – and be specific about your situation (eg, “caregivers for elderly parents” or “caregivers for people with dementia”).
7. Learn what resources are available for family caregivers
Check local chapters of disease-specific organizations, such as the Alzheimer’s Association or the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Most diseases have an organization and a support group. Some meet face-to-face and some meet online. When you’re caring for elderly parents, it helps to know you’re not alone. Learn how others are getting more energy to take care of their responsibilities.
8. Talk to the service agencies about getting help caring for elderly parents
You don’t have to be a member of the congregation to ask for help or guidance on caring for elderly parents! Reach out to an organization you haven’t tried.
Also, call the hospitals. They know that helping the caregiver helps the patient, especially if the patient is an elderly parent. Ask about Adult Day Programs in your community.
9. Take time off in a local coffee shop
Order whatever makes your mouth water. Sit down and make a list of the things you used to love to do. How long since you’ve done any of them? Pick a day and time to give one a try! Even just thinking about the things you enjoy can help relieve stress.
This tip on how to get more energy when caring for elderly parents is about taking care of yourself.
10. Try journaling to relieve the stress of caring for elderly parents
Writing gives perspective and restores sanity. It is a lifeline as well as a record. It allows you to vent, delve into issues, and untangle messes. Writing lets you analyze, celebrate, and finish a thought without interruption. Journaling also relieves stress by releasing mental toxins and deepens awareness.
I welcome your thoughts on these tips on how to get more energy when you’re caring for elderly parents. I can’t offer advice, but you may find it helpful to share your experience. Writing often brings relief and insight, and can help you clarify what you feel and think.
For more tips on caring for elderly parents, read Reducing Caregiver Stress When Caring for Elderly or Ill Parents. You’ll find more tips on how to get more energy.
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To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors. – Tia Walker.