Surely, we all have days when we’re just dragging, feeling at our worst. On those days when we don’t feel well enough to even get out of bed, some of us imagine having a “fairy godmother” who comes over to take care of us by doing the cooking, the cleaning and all the necessary tasks. But what if no fairy godmother appears AND you still have the added responsibility of caring for elderly parents who are also sick?
If you’ve raised kids — who get some sickness every week, it seems — you probably remember days like this, when you had to orchestrate the same sort of balancing act. Let’s face it, taking care of someone else while you’re unwell sometimes feels next to impossible. However, you managed then and you’ll get through it now.
With the seasons changing, so many write us about this POP challenge. So, here are three ways that you can make this type of POPcycle day easier and, with a bit of planning, you can feel far more capable of taking care of yourself as well as those aging loved ones around you.
1. Accept what you can’t change. Performing that simple mental act and then following it without complaining, fantasizing about things being different or pretending you’re all-powerful will make you feel better. Accepting your situation – you don’t have to like it – but just accepting it will help you feel more relaxed about the what’s not changeable.
2. Plan in advance for needing help. If possible, before this predictable moment arises, make a list of those people who are convenient and whom you’d feel comfortable asking for help with your aging parents. Consider your neighbors, family and friends of course, fellow members of your church or other groups you may be in. It helps if your parents already know and like the people you’ve enrolled to help. So, if your Mom and Dad don’t already know the prospective “respite team,” invite them to your home and introduce them to your parents in advance of needing their support. They might even be willing to watch over your ill parents while you rest for a few hours. Don’t be afraid to ask for help since we all need it, sooner or later. You may be surprised to find out how many people will gladly lend you a hand and even feel good about it. It’s best to identify specific tasks that require their support because people like to be clear that they’re “signing up” for a limited but useful errand.
3. Make adjustments to your routine to accommodate your own health needs. It’s key that you know and respect your own limitations, particularly if you’re caregiving others. During those hopefully rare times when you’re not well enough to keep to your usual schedule, remember to be gentle with yourself and to make as many adjustments as you can thus insuring that you can get extra rest, healthy food and needed medical attention. You may even need to create a place where you can rest fully, find a delivery service to bring in healthy meals for everyone in your household or think of “out of the box” solutions to accommodate this temporary POP challenge.
Have you ever been sick while taking care of parents or children who are also unwell? Share your thoughts and tips with us by commenting below.