Growing older can be an amazing experience, and having your aging parents involved in your life and your children’s can be an enriching and wonderful thing for all concerned. However, as our parents move through their golden years, some additional challenges may emerge around balancing caring for them and caring for the younger members of your family. While this may seem difficult, it’s generally not an insurmountable issue. Seniors Helping Seniors understands the complexities of elder care, so with that experience in mind, we’d like to offer some tips for balancing caring for aging parents and raising children. It is not a proscriptive list, so feel free to pick, choose, and adapt our suggestions to work for you.
Clear communication is key: As in all human relationships and all family ventures, clear, consistent, and open communication is the key to success. As we age, we may become less adaptive to change, be it personal or within the family. You might want to include your aging parents in the conversation if you’re moving, if your kids are changing schools or going to college, or if your work schedule is changing. Give them a space where voice concerns, ask questions, and otherwise get comfortable with the new things happening around them.
Listening is part of communication, but unfortunately, we all sometimes forget to listen to our family members–especially the elderly. The fact is that your aging parents are still adults, and they still have needs, feelings, and preferences. As part of clear communication, ensuring that you’re listening to their desires, opinions, and thoughts is a big step in ensuring that they’re being taken care of and that you can better balance their needs with everything going on in your life.
Just as you need to involve your parents and listen to their needs, it’s also important to keep your children in the loop when it comes to life changes, particularly those regarding your aging parents. Young children may need some help understanding why their grandparents are coming to live with them, are less mobile than they used to be, or are moving to an assisted living facility. Older children have their own emotional needs, and as young adults, they deserve to have their thoughts and needs heard.
Take care of–and make time for–yourself! In all of this, you are important, and you deserve to be loved, cared for, supported, and treated with kindness. You’re a human and you’ll need to take breaks, do things you enjoy, or just rest now and then. Involve other family members, reach out to friends and neighbors, and find supportive programs to help you take care of your parents and keep the kids occupied while you do the things that make you happy and help you feel good about life.
Finally, and maybe most importantly: ask for help when you need it and accept help when it’s offered. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all of this is your responsibility, 24 hours a day forever. The reality is that you need time for yourself, as we pointed out above, and your aging parents may need some additional care or companionship that you’re not in a position to offer them. By using the available resources to get the help that you and your parents need, you’ll make everyone’s life easier and make the time you spend with them that much richer.
Caring for older adults can be challenging, but Seniors Helping Seniors is here to help. Our team of senior volunteers understands what their fellow seniors need, and are there to help with a variety of day-to-day tasks or provide a bit of age-appropriate companionship as needed. The golden years are a precious time, meant to be enjoyed to its fullest, and our unique approach to senior care helps all involved get the most out of them. If you’d like a little help or company for an aging parent, if you’re a senior who could use a hand at home, or if you’d like to volunteer, get in touch with us today!