How to Help Mom and Dad Without Taking Their Independence Away
As a caregiver, a lot of new responsibilities rest on your shoulders when it comes to helping your parents or grandparents to age in place. You're now responsible for every aspect of your own life as well as several aspects of someone else's. Keep in mind that that someone has had their own freedom and independence for the majority of their lives.
It's easy to want to take charge of it and take actions to ensure that your parents are happy and safe by controlling as much of their lives as you can. Sometimes the routines that work for us won't always line up with theirs, though. When this happens, it can lead to conflict and stress that is ultimately detrimental to the relationship. It can also lead to depression and resentment in your parents.
Healthy aging means that your parent's physical needs are met, but also that their well-being and mental health is looked after too. By giving your parents some freedom to feel autonomous, you can improve their mental health as well as your relationship with them. Here are a few tips for caregivers on how to take charge without completely taking over their lives:
1. Start with a schedule.
You don't need to be at home with your loved one 24 hours a day to care for them. Not only is that impossible for you and detrimental to your own mental health, but it also isn't ideal for your mom or dad. Talk to your parents and come up with a visiting schedule you can all agree on. On scheduled days, prioritize tasks they can't do as easily on their own, like cleaning up or grocery shopping. A schedule allows for more precise expectations for both parties.
2. Don't assume anything
It's important to talk to your loved ones about responsibilities, so you can both establish clear expectations of one another. You don't want to assume you have to do everything and get overwhelmed. Talk to your loved ones about the things they expect of you and the things that are possible on your end. With an honest and open discussion, both parties will feel more comfortable. A discussion also helps your loved one to feel heard. It gives them a say in what happens to them in the later stages of their lives.
3. Always be Safety-Centric
Space and freedom are necessary to promote healthy aging but don't forget about safety. It's essential to look at the common injuries that seniors face and prepare the home to help prevent any accidents. You can help your parents by ensuring their house is safe, well-lit, and free of any tripping hazards. While physical safety is important, it's also critical to focus on mental safety. Be on the lookout for signs of troublesome behaviors and symptoms of mental illness in your parents, too. If you notice any of these behaviors, it's crucial for you as a caregiver to take charge to prevent accidents.
4. PERS devices give more freedom and independence
Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), medical alert systems, or emergency alert systems are a great way to ensure mom and dad can age in place without the need for a caretaker checking in regularly. Since PERS devices and other medical alert systems are able to communicate with friends, family, neighbors, and other caregivers, they can offer peace of mind for both you and your elderly loved one. With the simple press of a button, you can be reached to assist your loved one in an emergency or non-emergency.
First thing's first: finding the medical alert system that fits into your loved one's current lifestyle and suits your needs as a caregiver. Check out all of our PERS devices.
5. Respect their boundaries
Clear and open communication is critical for setting boundaries, so make sure you're always creating a dialogue with your loved ones whenever possible. Check in and see how they're often feeling. Perhaps they're comfortable with you doing the grocery shopping for them, but they still want to cook their own food. Whatever the case, be respectful of their boundaries and give them as much freedom as you can. As long as there isn't a risk or harm involved with whatever they're asking, it's usually okay.
Overall, your main goal as a caretaker should always be to improve your loved one's quality of life and encourage healthy aging. There is a fine line between offering independence and being a serious caretaker, but with these tips, we hope to provide a bit of clarification. To learn more about LogicMark and our suite of personal emergency response systems and medical alert devices, be sure to visit our blog