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How To Raise Your Children When Caring For Your Sick Elderly Parent At Home

dementia care

Raising children is hard enough as it is, but when you have to take on the additional responsibility of caring for a sick elderly parent at home, it can feel downright impossible. Juggling the needs of both can be difficult, especially when they seem to be in opposite stages of life, but with a little planning and organization, it can be done. Here are some tips to help make things run a little more smoothly.

Make It a Family Effort

There's no way around it, caring for an elderly parent is a lot of work. It can be both emotionally and physically draining. The last thing you need is to have your kids misbehaving or not pulling their weight. Make sure everyone knows what's expected and don't allow them to shirk the responsibilities they've been given. If they're old enough, try giving them actual chores that will help out around the house that don't require operating heavy machinery or climbing too high — things like washing dishes, changing sheets, taking out the trash, etc., are all good examples.

If you have adult siblings, then this is the time when everyone should help each other. Having parents with dementia is something that affects everyone, and so the responsibility should be spread evenly. If they are nearby - call them for help.

Be Consistent

Kids are used to having a schedule, so try your best to maintain one even when you're crazy busy with your regular duties and caring for an elderly parent at home. By giving them a little structure, they'll feel far more secure and know what's expected of them — plus, it will help you stay on track and lessen the potential for arguments and fights. Stick to the same meal times after the usual breakfast, lunch, dinner drill, so they know exactly when they should expect food (or if something's wrong because supper didn't show up). If you have older children who like to stay home, make sure they get out of the house on a regular basis. Encourage them to spend time with friends or sign up for some extracurricular activities. This will give you a break and also help them clear their head of any pent-up frustration they may be feeling.

Don't Ever Forget About Yourself

If your kids can see that you're stressed about things, it will only add fuel to the fire and put everyone else in a bad mood as well. You need to take care of yourself so that you'll have the strength and energy required to keep going throughout the day — both at work and at home. Make sure you're taking time out for yourself every day by eating right, exercising, sleeping enough hours, and relaxing.

To help your elderly parents cope with the additional stress in their life, talk about it with them. They may not be able to offer any helpful suggestions, but they'll understand how difficult things are for you and will feel bad that they're putting an added strain on you while not being able to do anything more.

Provide Distractions

No matter what the situation is, kids will eventually get bored if kept inside all day long doing nothing of value. Try keeping a few small but fun activities around the house, so they'll always have something new to look forward to when boredom sets in or if they've had any arguments (and need a time-out). This can be something like playing catch in the backyard, starting up a game of Monopoly, or even something as simple as playing a few family board games.

These activities are also beneficial for the elderly, as it has been shown that mental stimulation can do them a world of good.

Don't Be Too Strict

It's impossible to tell what the right balance is between being strict with your kids and not being too strict without knowing your children individually. However, it shouldn't be so difficult if you've known them for years. If they're teenagers, then there shouldn't be much trouble at all — but younger children will need their limits set by way of some structure and discipline (this is normal). They won't like it, and they'll probably test the waters quite often — but never give in because letting down your guard once can lead to total chaos later on (it's also important that you remain consistent throughout the day).

Elderly parents can help in these situations, as you can make a "good cop - bad cop" scenario, where they play the other side. For example, if the kids ask for anything too unreasonable, your parents can refuse it, and you can do the same with something that's reasonable. This way, they'll both have a stronger argument for what they want.

Be Patient

Even though it may not seem possible at times, having children when caring for an elderly parent at home isn't all that bad — just be patient, stay strong, and never give up on any of them (this includes yourself). The family will become closer than ever (and hopefully learn a few things along the way). However long you decide to keep going is fine as long as no one gets hurt or upset — but don't forget that this time period won't last forever either; once things settle down and everyone begins adjusting to their new schedules and roles, you'll all be back to normal again in no time.

It can be difficult to juggle the responsibilities of caring for your sick elderly parent and raising children at home. However, with a little planning and organization, you'll find that it's possible. The tips provided will help make things run more smoothly in terms of feeding them, keeping them occupied throughout the day without being too strict or lenient, making sure they get out of the house on a regular basis if they're older kids who like to stay home from school/extracurricular activities (this is also important for younger ones), taking care of yourself, so you have the energy required to keep going throughout your day both at work and at home while ensuring that your elder parent feels less stress about their situation by talking about it together.