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Taking Care Of Grandparents: Helping You Both Cope

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Caregiving can take many forms, and involve family or professional caregivers

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Do you have elderly parents or grandparents who are commanding more and more of your time?

It can be tough seeing a loved one age, especially as physical or mental health starts to decline. Slowly it feels the circle of life comes into full effect as we enter into new territory, a role where we have to take care of those who once took care of us.

Getting older isn't easy, and sooner or later, it will happen to us all, but how do you know what to say or do for an aging parent or grandparent? More and more parents are taking care of grandparents. Ultimately, caring for elderly parents doesn't come with a rulebook, but there are some great things you can try, which we will outline here for you and all your family. Additionally, if you're looking for other informative articles, take a look at how to do a [gender reveal to grandparents] or where to get started with a [Grandparents Day card].

Taking Care Of Grandparents Or Parents

When it comes to why you might want to take care of an older relative, everyone will have different reasons for their care, depending on their relationship, but ultimately it boils down to love. Remember, older relatives form an important part of your family and help connect future generations with their past. There are many ways you can take care of a loved one close to you and ease stress. Here are a few great elderly care tips.

Visit Regularly  

Depending on your geographical situation, try your best to visit your grandparents or parents often. Maintain a routine that works for both of you. It's a good idea to set clear boundaries if you are the primary caregiver, so if they know you are coming to visit every last Sunday of the month, stick with it. The same applies to if your visits are weekly or daily, depending on your schedule and the level of support your relative needs. What's important here is to be clear with them when they can expect to see you and any grandchildren, and ensure you don't burn yourself out by caring in the process.

Include Them In Outings

While any grandparent is sure to want to hear about your latest ventures, if there are places and trips you can invite them along to be a part of, do it. You'll undoubtedly build some great memories with all generations of the family, and we don't mean taking them along on your next world trip in case the concept of going on vacation is far is too anxiety-inducing. Even a coffee at a café while your young children play in the park, is an outing. Keep them updated with the academic progress of any grandchildren, and include them in any school activities.

It's a good idea to keep grandparents involved with activities.

Lend A Listening Ear

Okay, okay, you may have heard the story about what you did when you were young a million times before, but try your best to listen to your parents or grandparents. Show them you are interested and still value their contribution. Equally, some of their worries might not feel comparable to yours, or perhaps you don't want to hear about Jan from next door for the umpteenth time but if it matters to them, do your best to show you are listening. If you see a grandchild roll their eye in the corner, remind them and other young family members to be respectful out of earshot. The same applies to asking them for advice. After all, they have been around a lot longer and, whatever your role, they may be able to give you insight.

Make Their Home Safe

That sandwich toaster may well have been all the rage when you were little, but now, with its wires exposed, it's a major health hazard. Explain to them in a caring manner, why you may need to get rid of it. Check their home and work together with other family members to identify any major health dangers. Look for any physical challenges, it could be that they now need a stairlift or some adaptations to get into the shower. There are plenty of home care companies who offer some amazing devices and emergency alarms if needed.

Check Diary Dates

It can be challenging for grandparents to keep track of their time, appointments, medication, and important dates. Help them with their calendar and, when you can, attend any medical appointments with them, or ensure another family member can. If you see them struggling, sit down with them at the start of the month, make sure to go through all their mail and important dates together by writing them in a diary. This can remove a great deal of stress and any guilt for missed appointments. Don't forget any birthdays for children and any upcoming celebrations.

Keep Mentally Busy

Do your best to help your parents or grandparent keep mentally busy. This might be through their favorite books,  quiz shows, or puzzles. Speak to any grandchildren about ideas they would like to do with their grandparents. Young children are often full of creative ideas to help, from coloring to the next school project.

Help With Shopping

Another aspect of care for the elderly entails adjusting to health and dietary needs, they may need some guidance. Equally, caregivers can help support them with the right choices for their medical needs and explain why they really shouldn't eat so many biscuits if suffering from diabetes or why laying off the fried foods with a heart condition is important. Convenience products may be a lifesaver in helping to keep them safe. Some products they may not realize even exist, such as ready grated and chopped vegetables. If going to the shop isn't possible for your family or caregivers, try to set up a regular online food shop delivery from a supermarket. If you reach the point where cooking becomes too troublesome, check out a regular home care, meal on wheels delivery.

Follow An Active Life  

Going to the pool, gardening, or tennis with their friends, are all options. Ensure they are still participating in physical activities where they can and look around to see what's available in your community.  

Embrace Life In the Community

Socialization is important for older generations. Ensure your parent or grandparent is still speaking to any close friends, family, and relatives they may have been in touch with throughout their lives. Remember, it's a fact of life; they will begin to lose more close people as they get older, and they may be grieving. Keep them active at social clubs, bingo, going to the salon,  book clubs, voluntary work, or whatever maintains their interest.  

It's important your parent or grandparent maintains a social circle.

Enlist Help Where Needed

If they have a yard or garden you are noticing isn't any longer viable for them to keep, arrange home care for maintenance. Call in a regular gardener or support to help them work to stay on top of things. Similarly, a cleaner may be a useful addition to their schedule.

Tackle Tech Challenges

It can be incredibly isolating for older people who have little to no concept of the latest tech trend or social media service, as so much of our lives and conversations these days revolve around it. There are some fantastic training courses out there designed to help them understand the internet, so why not take a look around your local area? Get their grandchildren to explain to them how the tablet works or a smartphone, and identify any potential challenges, maybe they need some new spectacles. This also helps people stay in touch, so you can still support them when you physically can't be there.

Pet Potential

If your parent or grandparent enjoys company and can maintain caring for an animal, consider a pet. It doesn't have to be a young kitten or a puppy which requires a lot of training and exercise, but even a budgie might be an option, or caring for an older dog. This also offers a way of bonding with grandchildren, family members, and other people in the community.

Dealing With Difficult Elderly Parents

Let's face it, caring isn't easy. One more errand, one more this or one more that, try to understand their motives. Are they asking for more things because they are lonely? Are they refusing to go to the toilet because they don't want the hassle and effort to move? Are they coming between you and a grandchild? Caregiving can be very challenging. Try your best to get to the bottom of what they are asking or refusing to do; there could be an underlying reason.

It may also be tough for them to accept their situation or lose independence in any form. Gently explain to them you are there to give a helping role and not boss them about. Remind them, that ultimately you love them and are concerned for their well-being. Try your best not to put any grandchildren in the middle of the situation or threaten them with not seeing you or your grandchildren. It is important to strike a balance that works for everyone, including other caregivers, to avoid potential stress. If your grandparents cross boundaries in your life, be transparent about their role and open with them about why you are feeling upset.

Remember, if you see sudden personality or behavioral changes, check if other caregivers have noticed the same, and don't be afraid to speak to a medical practitioner for further advice.

How To Avoid Burnout Taking Care Of Grandparents Or Parents

Unfortunately, caregiving can result in burnout. Try to share the load with other people and make sure that you must remember to take some guilt-free time out if you are the primary caregiver. You might want to look into whether it's possible in your state to get paid for taking care of your elderly grandparents. Caregiving allowances do exist and lots of stipends and allowances are out there for caregivers. Go to the website of your state and search for your local National Family Caregiver Support Program. You'll find plenty of information about caregiving and home care there.

If you are a primary caregiver, another idea is to look into becoming a licensed caregiver. This way, you would get renumerated for the work you do. Another idea is hiring a companion or a home help caregiver for them; this will help reduce the burden on you and give you some peace of mind that they are getting support. Try your best not to take on the entire role yourself, and share the load with grandchildren and other caregivers. You can also seek support groups for caregivers in the same position as you. Although it is a delicate conversation, speak to them about the future, and more full-time home care options if needed.

If you found this article helpful, then why not take a look at these [Grandparents Day crafts] or how to deal with grandparents disrespecting parents?

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Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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