There are very few people out there that look forward to the day that their aging parent relies on them completely. If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s something that we dread. We aren’t the parents to our parents – we’re not born to care for those who changed our diapers and fed us as babies. The thing is, sooner or later this could be your life. Avoiding the topic isn’t going to help anyone; in fact, it’s the worst thing that you could do for yourself in life. Without talking about the wishes of your elderly parent, you could find yourself shoved into the role of a caregiver without a second to think.
A slip in the bathroom that breaks a frail hip, your parent wandering into the street confused because they are starting to forget that they are already at home. It’s sad, it’s not something anyone wants to deal with and yet here you are, dealing with elderly parents who need you more and more. One minute you’re living your life and you’re ticking along nicely, and the next you’re dealing with the finances and deciding whether to call www.parcprovence.com now or later because you need the help. You feel guilty and sad because you are having to deal with going against their wishes about leaving their home but you’re unable to cope. You’re sad, because the person who rocked you to sleep at night doesn’t recognize you anymore. It’s a big deal and it’s a hard time to go through in life.
The one thing that you need to do is learn how you can step up and take care of your aging parent. No one said that it was going to be easy, but the vast majority of the elderly want to stay in their home. As much as possible, you should try to abide by their wishes, until – of course – it becomes too much and you need to move them to a home. Until that point, here are some of the best ways that you can care for your elderly parents:
Visit Frequently. Whether in their home or in a home, you need to be a presence in their lives. Your elderly parent may need your help more than they realize, and it starts with the little things like watering the plants that they forgot to water, then topping up the food in the house that they forgot to top up for themselves. Noticing these subtle changes begin to happen before they become massive problems is a good thing, because then you can be vigilant about how you act on them. Create a community of family, friends and neighbors that you can rely on to look in on your parents from time to time, though, because you can’t do it all alone.
Health Care Proxy. As their child, you are usually the person who slides into the position of proxy – the person who takes care of all their healthcare decisions on the behalf of the aging parent. You can create a living will and make decisions about their assets after death on their behalf. It’s important that being signed off as a healthcare proxy happens during a period of lucidity, as your aging parent is going to be the one who signs off on you making their choices in the time that they cannot.
Discuss Finances. You need to have frank discussions with your parents about money and access to it before it becomes too hard. If they move into a care home, there has to be a way to fund it from savings, bonds or even the sale of a house. You’ll also be in charge of this house sale, and so you should make a point of getting the paperwork out and filed somewhere safely. While you’re caring for your elderly parent, you can’t rely on just your own finances to fund it all, so have the awkward conversations and have them before it becomes too late.
Take Them Out. If you want to care for your parent, it means meeting their social needs as well as their health needs. As they won’t have the demands of children at their feet or a job to go to, they need to have support while their health is in serious decline. Dementia is not something that can be slowed down, so while you can and they can, get out into the fresh air. Sports like pickleball can be a wonderfully social team sport to play while they still have their movement and dexterity. Take them to social nights and appropriate situations that they could find comfort with. Keeping them mobile is also the one thing that can really help all of you; a change of scenery other than the four walls of the house can make a huge difference to their mood.
Care For You, Too. While you’re being a caregiver to an elderly parent, you need to think about who is looking after you. It’s a terribly huge burden to have a parent rely on you for their care, and you need to be well supported in your efforts to look after them in the end of their life. Rely on counselling services and friends to help to keep you informed of their condition and how to support it and make sure that you have somewhere that you can go that isn’t just with your parents. You have to remember that despite being their child, you’re a person, and your obligations will keep you away from your own family and career.
Caring for an aged parent is not easy but with the right guidance and support, you can make it easy for yourself. It’s a big change in all of your lives, you just have to make sure that you are as ready as you can be. Look after yourself and pace yourself; this is a big deal and it takes patience and a lot of love.