Men are often known for the important quality of having a protective instinct when it comes to family. Perhaps this harks back to the long-gone days when we stood guard against threats in caves and on the open savannah.
Whatever the origin, we should no longer overlook the male potential for caregiving. Perhaps it does rise from a protective rather than a nurturing source, but that really doesn’t matter. The end result is the same: the urge to preserve the lives of loved ones.
But it isn’t just taking care of the kids and being a heroic husband that matters. You should also do whatever you can to look after your parents as they enter their twilight years.
For most of us, our parents were real-life heroes that are truly unsung, and never wore capes. As they make the sometimes difficult transition into old age, it’s time for us to return the favor. With ever-increasing lifespans, elderly parents need extra help and support for longer periods. There are many ways you can step up and make life easier for them.
The first step is accepting the often thankless but ultimately fulfilling role of caregiver, just as they did for you.
Health Problems: Persistence Crushes the Chronic
Many health problems will inevitably affect us all, no matter how long we live. Chronic issues are the norm, such as joint issues, heart problems, or even mental disorders.
It’s vital you educate yourself on any issues that arise, because most likely you will have to serve as their medical advocate. Yes, this may involve taking your parents to the hospital, or getting them emergency medical attention when they need it. You have to remember to apply your strength of will and persistence to tackle chronic illness.
Be prepared for unusual health problems that don’t often afflict younger people. For instance, many seniors develop throat problems such as dysphagia. This will require treatment for swallowing issues.
Keep in mind that mental disorders can develop without your parents noticing. In fact, though we’ve made great strides against heart disease and other diseases that creep up on us in old age, we’re not gaining much ground against Alzheimer’s.
Again, education is key: learn the signs of emerging mental issues so you can spot them early.
Keep Them Company
Sometimes all your parents need is a little extra company. Post-retirement life can come with a lot of isolation, and loneliness can be a big problem. Making regular visits goes a long way, and can help prevent depression.
Try to see your parents as often as you can, guys. Yes, many of us may have beefs with our dads, but it’s time to let go of all that junk. Doing so will not just help his peace of mind, but yours as well.
Spending time is particularly important for parents who have lost their spouse. You may even want to get them a pet to keep them company. But even if both your parents are still around, a quick visit can lift their moods dramatically.
Do More for Them
Studies have shown that nearly half of all seniors have trouble doing daily activities. Try to ease the load for your parents by doing more for them.
You may want to offer to drive them around. You could also assist them with handling their financial matters. Even small things like doing laundry and cleaning for them can be a huge help.
Living Under the Same Roof Again?
If their health becomes a particular problem, you may have to make the difficult decision to either find an assisted living home for your parents, or move them into your own home.
Another potential alternative is to seek in-home assistance for them. It can give them someone to keep them company, handle daily tasks, and help with medical matters.
Who Cares for the Caregiver?
No matter what you decide about their situation, being there for elderly parents can be a particular strain on finances and relationships as well as your own well-being, so no one will fault you for struggling with the issue.
Ultimately, be sure to take care of yourself in the process, as caregivers themselves can experience issues of their own.
Bottom line: don’t become a sacrifice instead of a hero in your effort to care for your loved ones. You may not get the thanks you deserve in the end, but the rewards will outweigh the need for recognition, for sure.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay