Time has passed you by in the blink of an eye.
Life has happened. And somehow you’re a fully grown adult with a family of your own and you’re not sure how it’s happened. You’ve always relied on your parents, even when you’re an adult yourself, to provide you with the best advice and unconditional love ‘whatever the weather’.
But recently, you’re seeing a change. Not just a physical change, in the contours of their face and the lines of their hands, but a mental change too.
Things are a lot more difficult for them these days. You used to think nothing of bringing them along to a morning church service, having them watch the children for the weekend, calling them at 10 pm for advice. These days, them attending to their weekly groceries seems a mammoth task and one which you feel obliged to help.
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The tables have turned, and you now feel responsible for the ones that have always been responsible for you. You might even find yourself lying awake at night thinking of your parents at home, what they have been doing that day – have they taken a shower? Have they left the house? Are they bored? This feeling will probably be magnified if you have suffered a loss of one parent and have the feeling that your remaining parent is alone.
Don’t feel guilty
Your parents getting older is a fact of life. It’s nothing that you need to feel guilty about.
In fact, the fact that your parents are still around and that Australia has a growing aged population means that the country is becoming a healthier and safer place to be, which is great news for our next generation.
Make a plan
What is important is that when you reach a point where you feel there has been a dramatic change in your parents’ ability to function in day to day life, that you are ready and know how to deal with it.
There is an incredibly strong emotional attachment to this subject which is why people sometimes feel self-care is the only possible option – as who can look after your parents better than you? But, there is a way of ensuring you continue to live your own fulfilled life, whilst also feeling secure that your parents are being adequately looked after and cared for in their later life.
A lot of this comes down to your choices regarding aged care options and picking the right place for both you and your parents. If you have siblings, this choice can become even more complicated, so my advice to you would be to come to some agreed decisions on this subject as early as possible.
The last thing you want is to feel pressurised into making an irrational decision if something unexpected happens.
Aged care options
There are many wonderful options for aged care and facilities which cater to all levels of care.
- Home care is a great alternative if your loved one is able to remain at home with you or another family member. This option will provide a daily carer (or overnight if needed) to assist your parent with daily tasks such a grocery shopping, paying bills and basic home care needs.
- Independent living facilities are perfect for those wanting to sell their home and live in a retirement village, but not quiet needing a high level of care. These are a great introduction to aged care living and for those who are still able to maintain a level of independence in their daily life. They can also be great for socialising and providing an array of recreational activities and clubs.
- Residential Care is at the higher care end of the scale. This option provides your loved one with daily care. This can often feel like a heart-breaking decision, and like your shirking your responsibilities, but residential care centres are perfect for those needing a higher level of care and help with daily activities like showering, toileting and particularly those battling sickness.
With many great options in Australia, it’s no wonder people are living longer. The level of care needed will be entirely between yourself and your loved ones, and possibly even a medical professional. But rest assured, there are many ways to take care of your parents and family members as they age while still being able to continue with your own life and taking care of your own family.
One thing we struggle with when our parents get old is the emotional toll it takes not only on them, but on us as well.
It’s important to stay in regular contact with your parents throughout this time but also to talk through your feelings as you experience them, with either your aged care staff or other loved ones that understand.
Are you looking after your elderly parents? Share with us in the comments.