Helping a loved one such as a parent as they age can be emotionally draining. Many aspects of your parent’s life will require your time and attention. Developing coping mechanisms, being flexible, and maintaining a sense of humor can help you and your parent navigate this time. Here are a few things to consider when caring for aging parents.
Having some difficult talks with your parent can help you figure out how much planning has already been done and where there may be gaps in regard to their estate and future. Ask your parent about their finances: Do they have a will? Have they designated someone to make medical decisions on their behalf? Are funeral arrangements in place? Discussing these topics and making sure the necessary paperwork is filled out is a crucial responsibility of being a caregiver. Estate planners can be extremely helpful in this process.
A loved one struggling with dementia, aches and pains, diminished mental capacity, or limited mobility can be heart-wrenching to see, but there are practical things you can do to help. For instance, there are many different kinds of assisted living facilities. The main difference between them is their level of care and the amenities they provide. How much attention will your parent need there? Do they have the ability to participate in activities such as cooking meals or recreational outings? How much privacy will they have?
Depending on the level of care they need, some residential homes offer individual rooms, while others are set up more like a hospital or nursing home where residents share common areas.
Your parent’s medical care is likely to be the most important thing you take care of for them. Make sure that you find a doctor who specializes in caring for the elderly. Doctors can easily miss things if they’re not paying attention to how certain problems manifest in older patients. Additionally, you can find a home health aide if your parent needs help with bathing and dressing. Finally, ensuring that no one abuses or neglects your parent while under their care is vital. Make sure you know the common signs of physician negligence, as this is unfortunately all too common in adult care situations.
Another important thing to consider when you’re caring for aging parents is self-care. Making sure you care for yourself while caring for an aging parent is important. Regular exercise can keep stress levels down and give you more energy during the day to handle your additional responsibilities.
Caregivers often need support when they’re caring for an aging parent. Some options include:
- Joining a caregiver support group
- Seeking advice from friends or family members who are also caring for elderly parents
- Speaking with your doctor about the best way to manage stress
Caring for your aging parent is not simple work. If everything feels like too much, talk to a doctor about your stress level immediately so that they can find solutions before the problem becomes worse.