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How to Deal With the Stress of Aging Parents

Each day, millions of Americans deal with the task of caring for their aging parents.  If you are a child of an aging parent that requires care, you already know how stressful this situation can be.  The stress of financial burdens, time constraints, and lack of help can all build up to the point where you can no longer perform your responsibilities to the best of your abilities.  Worse yet, your personal and family life will suffer as well.  Whether
your parents are of good health or no longer able to live on their own, you must find healthy ways to deal with these stresses.  In order to avoid becoming overwhelmed, we have compiled a short list of tips that will make your life as a caregiver much more rewarding.

Get Help
In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed with the duties as care giver for your parents, one of the best things you can do is know that you are not alone.  Whether it be in the form of
other family members or caregiving services, make sure you find a way to get assistance you need before you become overwhelmed.  If you decide to get help from other family members, be sure to discuss which duties each person will do.  Make a plan that includes who will visit on certain days, who will take your parents to medical visits, and who will cover the financial situation, among other duties. When splitting up these duties, play to each person’s strengths.  This will make it much easier for each individual involved and will make the situation less stressful.  If you reach out to family and they cannot or will not help, don’t get angry with them.

Certain people may not be able to handle the stress that comes with caring for their parents, and you don’t want this to cause trouble within your family.  If you reach out to a caregiving service, be sure to do your research and understand exactly what thy can do for you.  If you go into a meeting with a caregiving service with the knowledge of what you need from them, it will be a much more rewarding experience.

Find a support group
According to a report by AARP, over 42 million Americans are currently taking care of their aging parents. This means that millions of people across the US, even families in your
own community, are dealing with the same stress as you.  One of the best ways to deal with the stress involved in taking care of your parents is to discuss it with people in you
same situation.  Not only will you be able to comfort one another, you might even learn some great tips on caring for your parents from people who have been through the same situation as yourself.  Support groups can come from all walks of life, not just those that meet at specific times at community centers.  Support groups can be family members, friends, or even coworkers.  You would be amazed at how much you have in common with people in your lives going through the same issues as yourself. Sometimes all you need to deal with the stress of care giving is to simply talk about what you are going through and get it out of your head.

Develop a plan
One of the biggest stressors involved in caring for your aging parents is the fear of the unknown.  Will we be able to afford caregiving services, when should my parent(s) move out of their home, and what do we if another family emergency arises that leaves me unable to care for my parents?  These are many of the questions that will run through your head as you worry about what lies ahead.  Even if you are doing well caring for your aging parents today, this fear of the unknown can keep preoccupied and cause a great deal of stress.  One way to calm these fears is to develop a plan.

Decide what you and your parents will do in certain situations both in the short and long term.  Plan out the finances future, what do do during an emergency, and when they should leave their home to make sure you are ready for anything that might happen.  Once you develop a plan, you be able to calm these fears of the unknown and focus on whats most import, the present care of your parents.  Another important note is to include your parents in this discussion if they are still able.  It may be a difficult conversation, but it is a very important one none the less.  Your parents will be hesitant to discuss these topics, especially about when they should move out of their home, but you must develop a plan to ensure a smooth transition no matter what may happen.

Take time for yourself
With all of the stress that accumulates while caring for your aging parents, you soon will find yourself overwhelmed.  When you are overstressed and overwhelmed, you will not be able to perform to the best of your abilities, and your personal life will suffer as well.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your parents is to take time for your self.  Get exercise, read a book, do anything that takes your mind off of your duties as a care giver and back onto yourself.  Once you take time for yourself, you will find your personal life improve, and the stress of care giving will melt away.  Another note to consider is that of taking on more than you can handle.  If you take on more than you can handle, no amount of free time will be able to relieve the stress of caregiving.  For example, if there comes a time when your parents need to leave their home and you plan on taking them into your, make sure you are prepared for the burden that this creates.  If you cannot balance the care of your parents with your personal life, you will end up doing more harm than good.

One Final Note:

Be familiar with your parents medical situation including who their doctor is, what medications they take, and what medical issues they are have. The more you know about their medical situation the less stressful the situation will be when an emergency arises.


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