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Monday, August 28, 2023

5 Tips for Providing Compassionate Care to Aging Parents

Posted By: Advancing Care

Caring for aging parents requires immense patience and empathy, and stepping into their world as their caregiver can be challenging. Consider these five tips to maintaining a respectful relationship and approaching the situation with sensitivity and compassion.

1. Cultivate Empathy and Understanding

To cultivate an empathetic approach, put yourself in your parents' shoes and try to envision surrendering aspects of your own independence. 

“This exercise helps foster compassion and understanding as you consider their perspective and emotional journey. Recognize that people are creatures of habit, and change can be especially difficult for them. When communicating with them, choose your words and actions thoughtfully, so you are careful to maintain boundaries and a level of mutual respect,” says Heather Greene, LCSW, Director of Resident and Family Services at Mountainside Residential Care Center.

2. Seek Support and Assistance

Caring for aging parents shouldn't be a solitary journey. “Reach out to other family members or friends who share the same responsibilities. They can be invaluable resources and offer assistance in specific areas where they excel,” says Greene. 

Moreover, consider joining support groups to connect with others who understand your experience and can provide encouragement and guidance.

3. Honor Their Independence
Remember that the goal of this process is to foster a sense of control and autonomy for your aging parents while being there to provide support and assistance as needed. 

“It's a collaborative effort that respects their dignity and preserves their independence as much as possible,” says Greene. Involve your parents in decision-making, respect their choices and encourage autonomy in daily tasks. Encouraging open communication and providing a supportive environment allows them to express their needs while you learn more about their abilities and limits.

4. Nurture Their Abilities and Self-Worth

As aging parents lose bits and pieces of their autonomy, they can experience blows to their self-esteem and self-worth. Continue seeking their advice, knowledge and wisdom, reinforcing their value and significance. Empower them by encouraging their participation in tasks, even at a slower pace. Praise their accomplishments and efforts, no matter how small, and emphasize the importance of their contributions. 

“Keeping your parents socially engaged and connected to their family or community can help nurture a sense of connection and purpose, which can boost their confidence and overall well-being,” says Greene.

5. Embrace Changing Roles

The dynamics between you and your aging parents may shift as caregiving becomes a reality. Embrace the fact that roles can change and fluctuate, and each situation may require a different approach. Remember that while they may not always resemble the people you knew growing up, they are still adults with unique perspectives and experiences.

As you embrace your evolving role as a caregiver, be sure to cherish the moments spent together and approach caregiving with patience and compassion. By fostering a nurturing environment, you can assist your parents in gracefully transitioning to this new life stage.

Our WMCHealth colleagues at Mountainside Residential Care Center are available to answer your questions. Please call them at 845.586.1800.