Many people find themselves, at a certain point in life, torn between their obligations as both parents and children. As if looking after children wasn’t challenging enough, we sometimes need to provide a similar care for our parents, whose health has deteriorated and who are no longer able to take care of themselves. Still, no matter how difficult this situation might be, it’s manageable. Here are some tips that you should follow if you want to make this situation easier to handle.
Safety comes first
No matter where your parents live, their home should be as safe as possible for them to move around. Not only are the elderly more prone to accidents, but their recovery period is much longer in case they have an accident. Make sure you remove all obstacles which your parents could trip, slip or bump into. They need to have enough space to walk around between furniture items, while special attention should be paid to slippery surfaces, such as those in the kitchen and the bathroom.
It’s a good idea to install non-slip mats and grab bars in the shower booth or above the bathtub. If your parents are living with you, all those safety measures will also benefit your children, which means you’ll kill two birds with one stone. Finally, it’s advisable to put your parents’ bedroom on the ground floor, so that they don’t need to climb up and down the stairs all the time.
Be realistic about your limits
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s simply impossible to provide the kind of care your parents need and their stay in your home or their own will make everyone’s life miserable. In that case, you need to either hire professional part-time help or look for specialised institutions, such as a reliable aged care centre, if your parents need care 24/7.
Include the kids
Regardless of their age, kids usually have a good understanding of what is going on around them. They will most likely notice that their grandparents need help, but they may not know how to help them. That’s why it’s important to include them and teach them a very valuable life lesson about looking after family members. Depending on your kids’ age, they’ll be able to provide different kind of help, but even if they are very young, spending time with their grandparents will be mutually beneficial. Sometimes just keeping them company is enough to make them feel better and appreciated. As your kids grow older, they might be able to take over some chores and help you with your busy schedule. Remember that you need all the help you can get.
Look after yourself
It’s common knowledge that if you want to help someone, you first need to help yourself build the capacity to provide assistance to others. Just like flight attendants remind us before each flight that in case of an emergency we first need to put our own mask before helping others, it’s vital you remember that you won’t be able to provide any kind of help, especially in the long run, unless you look after yourself. This means you need to make sure you lead a healthy and stress-free life as much as possible, have regular medical check-ups and treat yourself from time to time to some night out or even a holiday. It’s extremely difficult to juggle between two completely different generations and only those who are strong enough can do it. Your needs and feelings need to be attended if you are to help others.
Stop living in the past
Gone are the days when your parents were capable of looking after themselves and their children, and you simply have to appreciate that fact. They are no longer able to help you and they might have great problems looking after themselves. Basically, it’s a completely different ballgame now and you have to be aware of the new rules. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that all quality is gone from the new relationship, but simply that you need to adjust your expectations. By setting a good example to your kids, you’ll teach them how important it is to be realistic in life, yet still full of love and support.
There’s no arguing that having to raise kids, look after your parents and have your own career is a daunting task. With so many realistic and potential obstacles along the way, some people simply feel overwhelmed and therefore either underperform or burn out. Make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, because both your kids and your parents still need you.