One of the most difficult challenges of reaching mid-life is to see our parents no longer be able to care for themselves in the way they once did. Indeed, it often falls to the adult children of aging parents to take over the responsibility of their care.
Of course, there are many issues to navigate here including those of autonomy, practicality, and cost. Not to mention the emotional relationship that we have with our parents, and how being responsible for their care can affect this. Fortunately, you can get a good grasp of all the factors involved in providing care for your aging parents in the post below. Read on to find out more.
Establish what your parent needs
You may think that you have a good idea of what it is your parents require, but the truth of the matter is you don’t unless you have had a conversation about this with them. Indeed, a dialogue is the key to keeping everyone as happy as possible here. Although starting such a discussion can be challenging.
With that in mind, you may wish to use content such as a TV program, or an example from real life to test the waters with your parents on this subject. Indeed, this can be an effective way of introducing this topic that is not so scary for the older person involved.
Additionally, it is a smart idea to spend as much time with the aging person in question as possible. This will allow you to make observations on their day-to-day needs including whether they can successfully prepare their own meals, deal with personal hygiene, how their mobility is and whether their cognitive health is in decline.
Of course, getting some help from a professional can also be very useful here, especially if your relationship with the older person concerned is strained. After all, it is much harder to argue with an independent and objective assessor than a family member.
Establish your own needs
In addition to establishing what needs your aging parent has, it’s important that you carefully consider your own as well. After all, many of us feel as if it is our duty and responsibility to care for our parents as they age.
However, doing so can be a stressful, and sometimes upsetting experience, and there is no shame in admitting that you may not be the best person for the job. There are often very sensible and practical reasons why adult children should not take over the role of primary carer for their parents.
For example, you may have physical or mental health issues of your own that would make becoming a full-time career impossible? Then there are those adult children that do not have the physical space to house an elderly relative and that do not live close enough to pop in every day. Your emotional well-being is also very important here, after all not everyone has the best relationship with their parents, and putting yourself in a situation where you can neither take time away from them and have to physically care for them can be damaging to all parties involved.
Fortunately, if you do decide that being the sole carer for your aging parent is not the right decision, there are several care options that you can consider. The first of these is residential care. This when your parents will move to live in sheltered housing or nursing accommodation depending on their needs.
Of course, many people will prefer to remain in their own homes, and the good news is that it is possible to employ private carers that will visit your parents’ location and take care of their needs in situ. Indeed, this option will often help to promote better mental health, as the older person gets to stay in familiar surroundings, and also remains part of their community.
Involve your parent in decision making
While making the right decision when it comes to caring for your ageing parents is vital, involving them in this process is just as important. After all, loss of autonomy can be very upsetting at any age.
The best approach here is to start discussing options and preferences as soon as possible. This is important for several reasons. The first is that it provides plenty of time for your parents to consider what they want, without you having to force the conversation or any changes on them.
Secondly, establishing what your parents want early on, provides plenty of time to create a plan of action for when the time comes. Additionally, it also means that if their cognitive health does become an issue, you will already have a good idea of their wishes and can keep to these as closely as possible.
Consider the financial implications
In a perfect world, the cost implications of providing your aging parents with care wouldn’t even be a consideration. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and it’s best to be fully prepared for the costs the options you will choose will incur.
However it is worth noting that depending on where your parent is living, there may be government assistance available to help meet the costs of elder care, something that can help make things financially more accessible for many people.
Prioritize home safety
Last of all, unless your aging parent is in any immediate danger, the most important step to take is to ensure their current living situation is as safe as possible.
There are many aspects to consider here, including things like making steps and stairs safer by using ramps, or stairlifts. Accessibility bars can help with steps too, as well as in the bathroom for the shower or bath. Additionally, minimizing tripping hazards from carpets rugs and other clutter is essential here.
Finally, making sure your parents can easily call for help if they do have a fall is vital. This may mean providing them with a large button mobile phone or a panic alarm that they can wear around the neck.