Caring with Confidence and Clarity: How to Reduce Stress When Caregiving for Elderly Parents

February 7, 2024
Giselle Bardwell
Caring for elderly parents can be a beautiful and fulfilling experience, but let's face it, it can also be incredibly stressful. Between juggling their needs, your own life, and a looming sense of overwhelm, feeling confident and finding joy seems like a distant dream. 

But fear not! This guide is here to help you navigate this journey with grace and less stress.

Managing Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver burnout is the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion one feels when managing the care and safety of someone else. Parents can feel this when they have young children who can’t fend for themselves or adult children can experience burnout when they are the primary caregiver for their elderly parents. 

You can't pour from an empty cup. Taking care of yourself isn't selfish, it's essential, therefore managing caregiver stress is key. Schedule time for activities that make you happy, whether it's catching up with a friend, reading a good book, or simply taking a quiet walk. Don't be afraid to seek professional support if you need it – a therapist can be a wonderful source of strength and guidance. 

Also, ditching the pressure of perfection and setting realistic goals for yourself and your parents will give you a welcome break. We all have off days, so be kind to yourself and remember, progress, not perfection, is the name of the game!

Talking openly and honestly with your parents, family, and care providers will reduce confusion and fosters a sense of teamwork. The more everyone is involved, the less you have to worry about something slipping through the cracks. Allowing others to help can create a solid support system and allow you peace of mind. 

Creating a Support System for Caregivers

Sometimes, you need a helping hand. Remember, seeking help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength and resourcefulness. Let’s walk through your options for creating a support network for your parents and yourself.

Family Members

One option is to have family members take care of your elderly parents at home. This may include adult children, siblings, or other family members. Family members often have a deep emotional connection with your parents and can provide a more personalized level of care. 

However, taking care of elderly parents can be time-consuming and emotionally challenging, especially if family members have other responsibilities, such as work and family obligations. This is especially difficult if most of your family lives out of town.

Professional In-Home Nursing Care

Professional in-home nurses are another option for taking care of elderly parents at home. Skilled nursing staff are trained and experienced in providing care for elderly adults and can provide assistance with medication management and medical care. 

They can also provide companionship and socialization for your elderly parents while you take time for yourself. This helps you have peace of mind knowing that your parents are receiving high-quality care even if you’re not around.

In-Home Health Aides

Home health aides are trained caregivers who provide assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. They can also help with meal preparation and medication management. 

Home health aides can provide care in your parents' home, but they may also provide care in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Home health aides are often paid by the hour, which can make them a more affordable option than hiring a full-time caregiver.

Emotional Support Group Options for Caregivers

You're not alone in this! Sharing your experiences and building a support system is key. Join a caregiver support group, connect with friends and family, or find a therapist who understands your unique journey. Knowing you're not alone can make a world of difference.

Caregiver Support Groups

Battling isolation and feeling overwhelmed caring for your elderly parent? Support groups offer a lifeline. Connect with others facing similar challenges, share experiences, find practical tips, and gain emotional support and encouragement. It's a chance to feel heard, learn from each other, and even forge lasting friendships – a powerful boost for your caregiving journey.

Types of Support Groups

There are many different types of support groups available for caregivers of elderly parents. Some of the most common types include:
  • Caregiver-specific support groups: These groups are designed specifically for caregivers, providing a space where they can connect with others who are going through similar experiences. These groups may be focused on a specific type of caregiving, such as caring for a parent with Alzheimer's or dementia, or may be more general in nature. In the Cleveland Area, check out Ohio Department on Aging Caregiver Support for help.
  • Condition-specific support groups: These groups are focused on a particular health condition, such as Parkinson's disease or cancer, that the elderly parent is experiencing. In these groups, caregivers can connect with others who are caring for someone with the same condition, and may learn specific strategies for managing symptoms and providing care. For example, the Alzheimer's Association Cleveland Area Chapter has resources for caregivers of parents with memory issues.
  • Online support groups: Online support groups provide a convenient option for caregivers who are unable to attend in-person meetings, or who prefer the anonymity of an online forum. These groups may take the form of message boards, chat rooms, or video conferencing. Caring for Elderly Parents is an Facebook support group of over 27,000 members where you can tap for tips and support as needed.
  • Community-based support groups: Community-based support groups may be offered through local hospitals, senior centers, or other community organizations. These groups may offer a range of services and support, including counseling, educational resources, and social activities. The Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging offers The Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) that helps caregivers in Northeast Ohio. 

Using Tools for Caregiving Efficiency

Planning is power. Sit down with your parents and family to discuss their needs, preferences, and how everyone can contribute. Create a realistic care plan that outlines daily tasks, medical appointments, and future considerations. This shared roadmap will provide clarity and peace of mind for everyone involved. Some families insist on using a shared Google Calendar which provides transparency into daily activities. 

Technology can be a useful tool for reducing stress and improving the quality of care for elderly parents. This could involve using apps or other technology to monitor medication schedules or to track health data, or using video conferencing tools to stay in touch with other family members or caregivers. Some examples of caregiver apps are: More and more apps are being created every day so don’t be afraid to dive in and find the ones that work for you. Technology can be a saving grace by streamlining caregiving tasks, reducing stress, and improving communication and coordination between caregivers and other family members.

Final Notes on Reducing Caregiver Stress

Celebrate the small wins. Take a moment to acknowledge your progress and the positive impact you're making. Caring for a loved one is a marathon, not a sprint. Savor the victories, big and small.

Remember, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your parents. By prioritizing your well-being, utilizing available resources, and implementing these strategies, you can approach your caregiving journey with renewed confidence, feeling empowered and less stressed. And who knows, you might even rediscover the joy in this meaningful journey you're embarked on.

If you have any questions or just need a break, please consider contacting the in-home care experts at BrightStar Care Cleveland. You can reach out via our website or by calling (440) 613-1500. We’re here to ensure you and your family are supported every step of the way.