I need help. My 85 year old father resides with me and my family. He has early signs of dementia and often times gets frustrated and lashes out at my family. I’m Dad’s full-time caregiver, I manage the house and tend to my kids. My siblings are out of state so Dad’s daily needs are dropped in my lap. I love my dad dearly but I am exhausted and need help. -Sue, Westbury, NY
I’m so glad you are reaching out. Caring for an elderly parent is difficult and very demanding. First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself. You’re no good to your dad and your family if you’re running yourself ragged. I hope this helps.
Tips for Senior Caregivers:
1. Maintain your physical health by eating a well balanced diet and exercising daily. For some great tips take a look at 25 Vitamin-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating and The Best 15 Minute Workout Without a Gym.
2. Attend a support group for caregivers. The Family Service League is just one of the many organizations that provide group or individual counseling to help caregivers manage their stress.
3. Encourage your mom’s independence. Find responsibilities that are in line with Dad’s capabilities whether it’s watering plants, reading to the kids or doing laundry. This will not only ease your burden but also improve your father’s state of mind.
4. Ask for help…it’s more than OK. Delegate chores to family members & request siblings to relieve you on occasion.
5. Give everyone a break in the house. Senior day care is available at some assisted living communities. Dad can spend a few hours, the day or a week while you get some free time.
6. Finally, schedule me time once a week. See a movie with the family, go out to lunch with a friend or relax under the skilled hands of a masseuse. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get out and recharge your battery.
I hope these tips help ease your stress and allow you to enjoy time with your dad. You are fortunate to have each other.