The HUGE Piece of Elder Care Most People Miss
Organizing care for an elderly loved one is a huge job. There can be a never-ending set of details to keep track of. I like to think of it as managing two different lives. In any given week, I might pay my mother’s bills, talk with her physician, arrange for an outing to amuse her, and order her a new pair of shoes online… all after running my own business and trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy in my own relationships.
Can you guess the easiest detail to overlook in this whole process? Taking care of yourself.
When everything is overwhelming, it’s easy to overlook self-care. That also happens to be when we need to be pampered the most. With that in mind, I strongly advise you to make your own health and sanity a priority when looking after your loved one. It’s a small detail that will help your life in enormous ways.
Here are a few tips to help you get started…
Make Time for You
Do you like to exercise, play a musical instrument, or spend time with your friends? Don’t cut these crucial opportunities for relaxation out of your schedule. It’s easy to think you “don’t have the time,” but once you start ignoring yourself, you step into a vicious cycle where stress just accumulates with nowhere to go. Then you feel even more pressed and have less energy, and the downward spiral continues.
You can’t help anyone if you aren’t in a stable position yourself, so don’t ignore the part of you that screams for a break or distraction.
Stay Prepared and Don’t Get Overwhelmed
Preparation is the one thing that will help you deal with the weekly surprises and unknowns. You can’t always know what’s around the corner, of course, but you can be ready for emergencies. How? By making digital copies of important documents, having a file with crucial contact numbers, and keeping a bag packed for unexpected travel (if your senior lives far away).
These kinds of preparations are invaluable when you’re dealing with a crisis that seems to come out of nowhere. Even better, they give you the peace of mind you need to face each day without too much anxiety.
Manage Negative Emotions
Every once in a while, I find myself overcome with emotions like guilt and worry. I want to be there for my mother, who currently resides in an assisted-living facility thousands of miles away. I start to wonder whether I’m being selfish or am a bad daughter. This continues until I remind myself that I’m doing the best I can, and that I have made a good decision for the health and safety of my mom. She’s not alone, unhappy, or in danger.
Keeping these facts at the ready helps me, as does the occasional meeting with a therapist or coffee with a friend. Negative emotions are part of the process, but you can manage them.
Looking for Ways to Organize and Balance Elder Care for Your Loved One?
In my newly released book I talk about my own experiences organizing care for my parents from thousands of miles away. I also give helpful tips, insights, and even checklists you can use to make the process easier. To learn more, ORDER the book today!
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