If your elderly parents need help with staying safe and healthy, you might need help yourself.
Helping elderly parents requires a lot of patience. You want to figure out your needs, understand the options, and make decisions without feeling overwhelmed. You should focus on something concrete that’ll help you feel more in control.
Consider these 7 steps to create a realistic plan for caring for aging parents. Your mom, dad, or patient will be happy that you read this.
Understand What Your Parents Need
Caring for aging parents can feel overwhelming since you’re not sure what needs to happen. Take a step back and assess how much help your aging parents need from day-to-day. The key areas you should focus on include: family support, home safety, medical needs, cognitive health, mobility, personal hygiene, meal preparation, and social interaction.
Ask yourself (or them) how much support they already receive in each category. Then ask how much help you can realistically provide. You’ll find the solution to how to stay safe and healthy much easier that way.
Consider having a caregiving notebook to write everything down. You can keep track of how you take care of your parents and figure out what services they need.
For instance, your parents could live in an isolated area with no other family nearby.
Perhaps they hate cooking for themselves but is managing diabetes and needs specialized care. You could help with managing their medication, transportation, and meals.
A solution could be hiring a driver for their doctor’s appointments or errands. Use delivery services for their groceries or meal deliveries. You should also consider hiring an in-home caregiver to prepare their meals and help distribute medications.
Consider Your Own Needs and Abilities
Consider what responsibilities you have in your own life before helping elderly parents.
Before you assume that you can take care of your parents on your own, stop and think about your own abilities. Are you in good health to physically care for someone? Or do you live close enough to make regular visits?
In those situations, you want to consider if you want to live with them or have them live in yours. Is this a kind of relationship that allows you to spend enough happy and peaceful time together? You want to consider how your personality blends with your parents’ personality types to better learn how to provide that care.
You want your parents to be healthy and safe. So by looking out for your own health and safety, you also look out for them and theirs. Taking on too much physically or emotionally will not help you or your parents in the long run.
Keep Your Parents Included in the Process
Caring for aging parents does not mean taking full control of their lives. It’s important to involve them as much as possible when planning for their care. It’ll help them to view you as their partner instead of someone forcing change onto them.
Parents are likely to be resistant in the beginning. It may take multiple conversations to get them on the same page. If they are not in any immediate danger, avoid forcing changes too quickly.
Start with approaches that don’t invade their independence. After that, you can slowly add to what they need until they are taken care of. This should help them accept your help much easier.
Understand the Financial Situation
You should always remember that caring for aging parents will cost money. It’s a good strategy to have estimates of what everything will cost you in the long run.
Consider the medical care your parents will likely need. That includes the cost of changing their living situation from living with you to assisted living. It also included everyday costs like caregiving supplies, home safety modifications or food.
As soon as you have an idea of the finances, you’ll know if you’re can afford it. Luckily, there is financial help for those helping elderly parents. You can consider government programs or Medicaid to help pay for long term care.
You may also want to consult a financial planner or an elder law attorney. They can help with things such as qualifying for Medicaid.
Handle the Home Safety Basics
Safety hazards in the home can add up over time, which makes aging parents prone to tripping, falling, or getting hurt.
You may have to go a long way to prevent falls and keep your parents as independent as possible. You can make sure that the floors and walkways are clear of any clutter, cords, and rugs. Installing grab bars in the bathroom and stair railings can make a big difference.
You should also update the lighting in all rooms and make sure that they are bright with switches that are easily accessible. Ensure that all appliances work well and are well within reach. And minimize any need for your parents to use step-stools or bend down.
Keep Communication Simple and Accessible
Make sure that your parents can easily call for help and keep in touch with their loved ones. As well as being a safety hazard, being isolated and loneliness have negative effects on overall health. This is why you should make sure their phone is easily accessible and simple to use.
You could help your parents with pre-programming numbers to make for simpler dialing. Or if your parents are open to the idea, suggest a wearable medical alert device.
Explore Other Aging Care Options
Even when you break down the steps, dealing with aging parents can be an overwhelming responsibility.
But there are many other elderly care options and helpful resources you can depend on.
A geriatric care manager can act as consultants to help you or they can manage the different aspects of caring for aging parents. In-home caregivers, whether hired privately or from an at-home care agency, can take care of seniors in the comfort of their homes. Assisted living communities are also helpful as they provide you with a break and 24/7 care for your parents.
Geriatricians specialize in caring for the elderly and are very helpful. They have more experience treating people with dementia, multiple chronic health conditions, and other conditions that will affect older adults. Or area agency on aging serves local seniors and is a great starting point to connect you with helpful government programs and resources.
Get Help for Your Aging Parents Today
Learning how to help your aging parents is an ongoing lesson. There are plenty of options to choose from, depending on what you can afford and what your parents are comfortable with.
Keep this guide to help you explore your options to get your parents the care they deserve today!