How to Cope with an Ailing Senior Family Member

How to Cope with an Ailing Senior Family Member

One of the hardest things that we experience as humans are the aging and ailing of senior family members.

Whether it be a parent or a grandparent, the feelings are the same — how will you carry on when they’re gone? How will you afford funeral expenses? Are they suffering?

These are all normal questions to consider when a senior loved one’s health deteriorates, and you’re not alone in feeling concerned. Annually, 1,383,700 ailing seniors need to relocate to assisted living, and it’s likely their children or grandchildren have had to make the hard decision to relocate them there.

Unfortunately, relocating your loved ones to assisted living is just one of the many considerations you have to make and cope with as a caregiver.

In this article, we’ll talk about some effective ways to cope with an ill family member to ensure that you’re able to navigate the process as easy as possible.

The diagnosis

It’s never easy to hear that a loved one has been diagnosed with a disease or is declining in health. Unfortunately, aging is a part of life and something that everyone has to cope with at one point or another.

But how do you cope with the diagnosis?

1. Take a deep breath

When you get the news that a family member’s diagnosis is something life-threatening, it’s normal to have a feeling of shock and panic. You question reality, and suddenly recall a lifetime of memories with them.

However, it’s important to remember that the best thing you can do for yourself and for other family members, especially the one who has received the diagnosis, is to stay calm.

Take a few deep breaths and get yourself back to a realistic, relaxed state.

2. Be patient

Perhaps one of the hardest things about hearing a family member’s diagnosis is the fact that you have to sometimes be patient to find out the severity and the prognosis.

This gives your brain room to run rampant as you tend to imagine the worst-case scenarios first.

For example, doctors may not be able to pinpoint the scope of the disease until further testing is complete— leaving you, and your loved ones in limbo.

As hard as it is, you have to stay calm and patient as more information about the diagnosis becomes available. This mindset will only benefit you and your family during this stage.

The progression

It’s sobering to think of your parents, or even your grandparents, as an ailing senior. After all, you’ve lived with them through childhood, adolescence, and young-adulthood — and for a while, you never even considered that they were growing older.

The progression of the diagnosis in senior family members takes strength and support among loved ones to get through. It’s important to accept help so that you can offer the same strength and support in return.

1. Accept support

One of the worst things you can do during the progression of a loved one’s sickness is to decline or turn away support.

As humans, we like to think that we can handle things on our own, but when dealing with something as complex and emotional as a sick family member, you should accept and appreciate all the support you receive.

As your ailing family member progresses in their journey, you may spend extra time by their side, extra money to ensure that they’re properly cared for, and many late nights caring for them. Your efforts can result in lack of sleep, lack of nourishment, and a drained bank account.

If you have a friend that is willing to bring you meals, or clean your home, accept their support. You need it more than you think — especially to give you the strength to continue supporting your loved one.

2. Stay informed

If your loved one is in a hospital or a nursing home, be sure to stay informed and up-to-date with their condition.

Ask the nurses and caretakers questions so that you can understand the progression and prognosis of their illness.

This will help you to stay up-to-date on how to best care for them, and what to expect in the coming weeks and months. It’s also beneficial to stay informed so that you won’t be surprised when certain events take place.

You should even go as far as asking the side effects of medications, what foods your loved ones should be eating, or how often they should rest.

3. Stay well rested

To ensure that you can spend the most time with your loved one as possible, it’s important that you stay well rested.

Take every opportunity to ensure that you’re rejuvenated so that you can spend your time caring for and spending precious time with your loved one.

4. Talk with them and learn from them

One of the more sentimental sides of coping with an ailing family member is the fact that they won’t be with you forever.

You should take time to talk with them and learn from them so that you have no regrets when they’re gone.

Ask them about their childhood, impart some wisdom, and hold their hand more often than you normally would. You’ll grow to truly appreciate these moments.

5. Expect and understand their frustration

There will inevitably come a time when your ailing family member will have bouts of frustration and anger; it’s only natural — especially in the late phases of their life.

They wonder why it’s happening to them, why they couldn’t live longer, and why they didn’t do more to stay healthy.

Listen to them as they release their frustrations and offer them peace and support as they work through their feelings.

6. Rest assured and rely on your faith

One of the best things that you can do during times of sadness and dysfunction is to rely on your faith.

Prayer and meditation can greatly ease a busy mind and can help you to cope and stay sane in every phase of the process.

Rest assured that things like funeral expenses and funeral arrangements will work out and that you have a support system too, even though you’ve been the one doing the supporting.

Have faith that everything happens for a reason, and that the other things will work out in time.

Coping is never easy

Coping with an ailing senior family member is never easy, but there are ways to help you cope.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself, and cherish the times you have. Don’t let yourself drown in sadness, rather stay sane with the help and support of others, while relying on your faith.

Though it’s not easy, you can get through it.