How & why to take care of your ailing parents with no stress at all!

How & why to take care of your ailing parents with no stress at all!

Surekha Garde

Let’s talk first about why one should take care of his/her ailing parents?

  1. Forget about, what our Parents have or haven’t done for us throughout their and our life. Whatever is the case may be, now is the time when they need us. The role is reversed now. We have to become caregivers no matter what and I really mean it.
  2. More and more people worldwide are living well beyond their 70s, thanks to advanced medicines. So more and more adult children are emerging who have to play a role of caregivers for their parents.
  3. Who should care for ageing parents? All of the siblings. Not necessarily it’s a job of a son or a daughter in particular. It’s the responsibility of all. But we think that women or a daughter should be a caregiver. That shouldn’t be the case as women also have the responsibilities apart from their home. Siblings may also consider who is the best fit for taking care of their parents.
  4. In the past few years, the number of people taking care of ageing parents has increased dramatically. Many adult children over the age of 50 now care for their ageing parents. Insurance also helps to some extent to reduce the financial load getting imposed on children so that care giving becomes easy.
  5. Rather than always looking at the practical angle, I feel we must touch the emotional angle too as they are our parents.
  6. Who is rich? The one who has parents. Who is successful? The one who has understood the “value” of parents. Who is great? The one who has fulfilled his/her parent’s dreams. Most of us will feel bad if our parents would be no more. But understand that they need us now. So let’s be with them “NOW”.23

How to take care of your ageing, ailing parents?

When my mother in law was bed ridden due to paralysis, it was for more than 2 years that we looked after her. We must identify our strengths and weaknesses first, when it comes to taking care of our old parents / in laws.

My husband Shriram had the entire responsibility of his mother and his father. Though he has a sister staying nearby, his parents preferred to stay with us.

My in laws were staying in a separate flat in a building which was very near to our building. Both of them were quite healthy and independent. We used to visit them almost every day either in the mornings or at night.

After my mother in law suffered an attack, naturally we admitted her to a nearby hospital. She was in the hospital for about a month.

Once the doctor advised a discharge to my mother in law from hospital, we had to think about a lot of things. As my in laws were already staying in a separate flat, we decided to arrange for a female care taker for my mother in law during the day time. Along with taking care of my mother in law, the care taker Tara used to cook food for both my mother and father in law. She even used to clean the house, wash utensils and clothes.

So basically Tara, apart from looking after my mother in law, also used to take care of all other work and activities at the house. My father in law used to be with my mother in law at the night time.

We never missed any chance to meet them at evenings and never let them feel that they were alone. Whenever Tara used to be absent, Shriram or I used to arrange their breakfast, meals etc. It was an added advantage that Shriram’s office was close to our house.

“Due to all these “adjustments’ which we “planned” and made the plan to work, it was never an emotional or financial issue for us to take care of my ill mother in law. Things were quite smooth.”

Anyone can do it irrespective of their gender, age, income level etc. Only thing needed to do this is the “will to do it.”

We have to anticipate that illnesses are unavoidable as the old age approaches and plan things accordingly well in advance. In modern world with only one or two siblings, our parents or in laws will look at us and not to others to be with.  If you are prepared, you can keep your parents with you or close to you. You will not let them feel that their own children are not with them or ignoring them, in fact when they needed you the most.

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Follow points below to plan things well in advance and take care of your ageing parents –

The most important thing is planning. The planning reduces the stress not only in this case but in anything that you do. So plan well in advance as to how to take care of your parents.  Just don’t do things on basis of how they will get presented in front of you.

  1. Have a dialogue – Hold a conversation among parents and siblings well in advance as to what to do when parents will need their children’s help.
  2. Do it at an early age – Carry out this dialogue when your parents are healthy. Don’t wait till they start developing health problems. This means planning well in advance.
  3. Main motto is to be with the parents – What I mean by this is any of the siblings can decide to take care of the parents. The most suitable one should take the primary responsibility and other siblings should help. You may think of sharing the responsibility, something like 6-6 months stay at each siblings place etc. Talk about sharing expenses as well. This will reduce the burden on any single child which will help him/her feel encouraged to take responsibility of the ageing parents.
  4. Don’t try to do everything by your self – You don’t have to quit your full/part time job or anything to take care of your parents in their old age or even if they are ill to the extent of being bed ridden also. By leaving the job, you may get more time to take care of them but it will disturb other things – like your current income, your retirement benefits, savings etc. In addition you should also think of if you can get the job again if you leave your current job to be with your parents.
  5. Instead take professional help – Instead of leaving your job for things you have never done before, plan to hire a professional (a nurse or a care taker) for your parents. Although you will have to spend a bit more which will increase your monthly expenses, this will ensure that your parents are in safe hands. In addition to this you will be tension free, stress free, which will help you in spending quality time with your parents. This is more required than leaving the job and keep on doing everything on your own and get frustrated at the end of the day and invite more stress for yourself and others.
  6. Keep yourself prepared – Arrange for all the medicines needed for your parents, no last minute tasks! Keep a stock of at least a weeks medicines ready. Plan what they will do in case of any emergencies occur when you won’t be around. Equip your parents with all important phone numbers and addresses. Display this information boldly at a place where it will be easily noticeable. Also have a plan in mind as to what you will do in case of emergency if you are there with your parents e.g. calling a doctor, an ambulance or getting a friend or relative’s help.
  7. Misc – There are lot of other things which will ensure safety and well being of your elderly parents. Just to name the few are – Having proper locking arrangement for main door and having a set of duplicate keys with neighbours and relatives, keeping bathrooms clean to avoid slippage and a fall which is the most common cause of disability in old people, just don’t give all the responsibilities to the care taker. You may need to follow up on your instructions if the care taker is following them or not. Try to maintain peace and harmony and be optimistic all the time.

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Taking care of your parents whether elderly, ageing or ailing with a positive attitude has its own benefits also. Most important benefit is bonding. An adult child may become closer to the parents. This may not have happened in entire life of both the adult child and the parents.

We learned more about ourselves while taking care of my ailing mother in law. It was a kind of growth experience for us.

Spending quality time with the child who is around makes a lot of difference for both the parents and the child.  It’s very special for parents when their kids help them. At the end of the day it makes a lot of good psychological effect on both.

A nurse could make your parents healthier, but every evening when we used to go to meet my mother in law, I knew she used to feel happier.

Which made us also happier. Ultimately that’s the essence of life.

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About The Author: Surekha Garde

With a Masters’ Degree in History along with Bachelors’ Degree in Commerce, Psychology and Education, I am a full time Teacher and Supervisor at a Private School in Mumbai.

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