Juggling the demands of daily life can be particularly difficult for family caregivers. If you’re caring for an older adult, you may need extra help. Fall is such a busy family time with school and sports activities for our children, and work and home obligations for families not to mention the holidays are just around the corner. Often I hear adult children reach out & ask me “I feel I’m neglecting my 72-year-old parents. I know they get lonely. What can I change to make more time for them?”
Balancing work and family obligations is never easy for any family, especially those with young children and older adults. The first thing you should do is try to get organized. Do you have weekly and monthly family schedules? If not, sit down as a family and write down all the activities that you, your husband or children have planned. Keep everything on one calendar so you don’t get confused and let activities fall through the cracks. When my children were young we kept a big desk calendar. (You know the kind that most people use as a desk blotter) hanging on the wall in the kitchen. I had each child’s activities color coded so with a quick glance I could tell today what activities I needed to be at and when. I would review the day on the drive to school with the kids, - reminding them each where and when we needed to be on that day.
By doing that, you might find places in your schedule where you can plan a fun activity or a visit with your parents. Why not make your parents a part of your routine? If they’re in good health, they may like to help. Asking them to pitch in to take your son or daughter to school or sporting activities or practice may help them feel needed. At the very least, they might like to attend as guests. My in-laws were at my children’s games every weekend. The children felt supported and loved by their grandparents while my in-laws loved being such a part of the kids’ lives. It was a mutually beneficial relationship and when I needed to run one of the kids to another field, my in-laws would take that first one back to our home after their game for a family dinner.
Most families dine out at least once a week, if not more. When you do, why not invite your parents to join you? Or take dinner to them if they’re not able to get out.
Here’s another idea: Perhaps your children could go to Grandpa and Grandma’s home to do homework. Many grandparents enjoy talking with their grandchildren about their studies, and can provide a unique perspective on history and other topics. Such an activity can be a learning experience for both your children and your parents. This is valuable time creating more than learning experiences but lifelong memories shared between them.
If your parents need assistance around their home or additional companionship, consider hiring someone to come to their house. Perhaps the grandchildren can help with tasks around the house depending on their age. If this isn’t an option, professional caregivers may be just what your mom and dad need to add a new dimension to their lives. In addition to serving as companions, caregivers can help with meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands and shopping as well as engaging in once beloved holiday traditions. Caregivers can adapt holiday traditions that have fallen to the wayside due to physical limitations with modifications so your loved one can engage in these activities. One of the Home Care organization’s most requested services is companionship, which may be just what your mom and dad need.
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’s love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.