Aging is a paradox.
While it’s an individual process that every one of us is going to experience in our lifetimes, it’s also a process that those we live with, love and spend time with are going to experience too. With aging comes a range of benefits, including increased wisdom, knowledge and the benefit of hindsight. But aging also comes with its negatives too, such as decreased flexibility, strength and stamina.
Aged care is often a necessity for your aging relatives.
More likely than not, you have too many responsibilities of your own – kids, work, mortgages, car payments and bills. They all have their impact. Many families simply don’t have the time or can’t practically afford to stop working to care for an aged relative.
That’s where home care comes into the equation.
Government-subsidised home care means that your aging parent or relative can receive professional and accredited aged care in the comfort of their own home, allowing them to retain a good measure of independence and autonomy – something that is not always available in a nursing home.
But even with in-home care, there’s still an unanswered question.
What about the family? What support do they receive? An aging relative can be stressful for everyone, especially if physical or mental health issues start to emerge. Let’s take a look at what support is available for the family.
There are a range of carer’s services available to those that care for elderly parents or relatives.
These services can offer basic over-the-phone counselling, advocacy and advice. Sometimes it can just be helpful to have an empathetic ear to hear what’s going on for you. Some services offer respite, allowing you a much-deserved break from your responsibilities.
Informal Support Groups
There are support groups everywhere in your local community.
Mother’s groups, men’s sheds, mental health support groups and even places like Alcoholic’s Anonymous. Chances are that there’s a support group for those with aging or elderly relatives near you. These groups can be a great place to grab a cuppa, sit down and have a chat with people experiencing the same things that you are. There’s actually a great atmosphere available in informal support groups, and people often make lasting connections based on mutual self-help, which have a range of benefits.
Make Time for You
Caring for an aging relative can often mean that the majority of your free time is spent looking after them or their interests. Even if they receive in-home care, you can often find yourself tending to their affairs – financial, legal or otherwise. This leaves precious little free time for yourself, to do the things that you like to do.
Try and find some time for yourself. You might read a book, catch a movie, listen to some music or engage in a hobby. Whatever it is, the point is that some time away from the responsibility will leave you refreshed and recharged and ready to re-engage with your priorities when you get back.
If the stress gets too much, you might find yourself wanting to seek professional help. There’s no shame in this – many people see mental health professionals for a range of different reasons every day, all over the world. A psychologist or counsellor may be able to help you with practical coping mechanisms.
Help is There!
Whatever your situation, you’re not alone in it.
From in-home aged care, through to carer’s services and helplines and support groups, there is support for you. Remember to carve some time out for yourself, and if necessary, engage the support of a qualified professional.