Whilst there will be changes noted over time, the one thing that will stay the same is that they will still be your parents and you will still be there daughter or son. Here are some tips to ensure that you both continue to have quality and enjoyment moments in the relationship as your parents require more support.
As the primary caregiver it can often feel as though a number of decisions that rest on your shoulders. If there are other siblings involved albeit in a lesser capacity then it’s good to communicate earlier on the expectation around what each of you can contribute in regards to your time, practical support and if financial support is required.
If you are becoming frustrated or feel you are carrying all the stress then be sure to communicate this with the family and let them know sooner rather than later. If they can’t physically assist due to their own commitments then their contribution may be to run errands or arrange for a private carer to assist you.
If relatives or friends offer to give you a hand, then take them up on the offer. Tasks such as preparing a meal, fortnightly shopping, arrange a cleaning schedule or simply coming over to give you ‘respite’ break so you have some time for yourself can make a difference.
As a primary carer it’s important to make sure you take time out to care for ‘You’! This is probably a statement you hear from friends or people around you all the time. For many carers the thought of taking time out for you doesn’t happen often and you maybe thinking “How could I possibly take care of myself?”. Especially when full time commitment supporting my parent and juggling your own day-to-day chores.
Self care and taking time out for yourself is most important, to ensure you can continue to care and the your role is sustainable. Try doing something for yourself every week. Too often carers forget about themselves as they are so immersed in the role as family carer. If you aren’t already then perhaps it’s something to consider or schedule and give it a try. There are no doubt a number of things you have put on hold or have stopped as you don’t have time -maybe it’s a walk in the park, catching up with your friends for coffee or watching a movie. Whatever it is, try to make time for you.
The joys of reminiscing are two fold, by spending quality time with your parents and talking about the special memories over the years there will be something good in it for you both. You will find the process of reminiscing will create new memories and moments for you to treasure that will last a lifetime. The quality time spent together in the later years will provide you with greater support through some of the more difficult times in the future.
To help your parents and you feel in control and the driver of their own care as much as possible become familiar with what support is out there and where possible educate yourself with any medical conditions they have. This way at a later stage or when you need to make any medical decisions ahead of time it will help you make informed decisions. You may want to join support groups where you can speak to others in similar situations that can offer peer support. Alternatively if you don’t have the time there are online forums or resources that can be helpful Ask your health professional for any recommendations or reputable sources.
Find out what government funded home care packages, day centres or carer’s allowance you may be eligible for. By finding out what is available ahead of time and if there are any waiting lists this is always worthwhile so that when you need it, you will be well equipped.
Having difficult decisions about future medical wishes, aged care or death and dying can be a challenging topic to raise or think about at any age. You may find that in fact your parents are more open to these discussions than you think, and it may in fact be your fears that prevent you from raising the topic. Raising it earlier will help you when the time comes, that way the decision doesn’t rest on your shoulders and you won’t be left wondering what they may or may not have wanted.
It involves talking with friends and loved ones about future health care wishes. Documenting what you may or may not want, which can include appointing a substitute decision maker, if your parents are not able to communicate their wishes. At some stage these difficult decisions will need to be made, if you want help with a ways to raise these topics or a Advance Care Plan – that can detail some of this information then visit this website to get additional information and download one of the forms.