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7 Tips for Parenting Parents

How to not lose yourself while caregiving.

Key points

  • It's important to take care of yourself and to ask for help.
  • Utilize supports that are available to you.
  • Be kind to yourself.

By Rob Pineda

From the moment we enter this world, our parents are our pillars of support and guidance. They are there to educate us, guide us, provide us comfort, dress us, nourish us, allocate allowances, take us to the park, and the list goes on. However, as the years pass, we begin to witness a noticeable transformation in our parents. They age, their eyesight fades, their strength diminishes, and they require a bit more care and attention.

At a young age, I assumed the role of caretaker for my parents and younger sister. I was juggling three jobs, attending school, scheduling and accompanying them to medical appointments, managing bills, maintaining a social life, and completing homework.

Overseeing everything simultaneously was an immense challenge. Before long, it seemed as though I had become the parent figure in our household. Despite the daunting nature of my responsibilities, I found a way to make it all work. If you find yourself in a similar caregiving role and are experiencing difficulties, there are several strategies you can employ to alleviate stress and make caring for your parents more manageable.

1. Prioritize self-care: Taking care of yourself is crucial in order to effectively care for others. Your parents rely on you, and ensuring your own well-being is crucial for effectively fulfilling your role. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with friends. Remember to get enough rest and eat well to maintain your own physical and mental well-being. It's important to take regular breaks to rest and recharge. Arrange for short breaks during the day or longer periods of respite to give yourself time to relax, pursue personal interests, or simply have some quiet time to yourself. Consider respite care options to provide temporary relief, and don't hesitate to ask for help from trusted family members, friends, or professional caregivers when needed.

2. Seek support: Don't hesitate to ask for help and reach out to friends, family, or support groups. Sharing your challenges and emotions with others who understand can provide immense relief. Consider joining local caregiver support groups or seeking professional counseling if needed. Sharing the load can provide much-needed relief and prevent burnout. Seeking assistance can be challenging, as people are often occupied with their own lives. However, there are websites available that can provide valuable support (see list of resources).

3. Plan and organize: Stay organized by creating schedules, setting reminders, and maintaining a system for managing appointments, medications, and other important tasks. Utilize technology, such as calendar apps or medication management apps, to help you stay on top of everything. Simplify your parents' living environment and organize their belongings to reduce clutter and make daily tasks more manageable. Label medications, create a system for important documents, and ensure that their living space is safe and accessible.

4. Explore community resources: Look into available community resources, such as respite care services, home healthcare providers, or meal delivery services, which can offer temporary relief and support. Take advantage of any local programs or organizations that offer assistance to caregivers. Look for services, such as senior centers, adult day programs, transportation assistance, or in-home care providers. These resources can provide additional support and respite for both you and your parents. Taking the time to learn about your parents' specific conditions or health issues is crucial for providing them with the best care possible. By taking the time to learn about their conditions, you can gain a deeper understanding of their needs and the challenges they may face. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions and seek appropriate resources to support them.

5. Exercise patience: Caregiving requires a significant amount of patience, given its demanding and occasionally stressful nature. The aging process brings forth diverse physical and emotional challenges, making it crucial to approach the needs of those in your care with empathy to sustain patience and compassion. It is important to be mindful of your words to those in your care, to maintain composure even in moments of frustration, and continuously demonstrate empathy towards their experiences.

6. Practice stress management techniques: Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as deep-breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, yoga, or engaging in activities that help you unwind. Experiment with different techniques and discover what works best for you. Creating a consistent routine can help bring stability and predictability to your caregiving responsibilities.

7. Celebrate small victories: Recognize and celebrate the small victories and accomplishments along the caregiving journey. Celebrating milestones, no matter how small, can help boost morale and remind you of the positive impact you're making.

Remember, being a caregiver is a demanding and often emotionally taxing role, and it's crucial to prioritize self-care and kindness towards yourself. By incorporating the tips into your caregiving routine, you can alleviate stress and also discover a greater sense of ease and fulfillment in providing care for your loved ones.

We lost my father two years ago, and I know I did my best. You are a superhero to your parents. Raise your head high and be proud of being a caring child.

Rob Pineda is a support specialist at The Gathering Place, a mental health outreach program at The Menninger Clinic.


These websites offer information about assistance from state and local resources.

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