Even as adults, children look at their parents as strongest, most caring and independent people they know. Unfortunately, there will come a time when your parent’s age impacts their health and the parent/child roles become reversed. If you are caring for your elderly parents or are in the beginning stages of caring for your parent’s, it’s important to know that you aren’t alone, there are more than 40 million caregivers in the U.S. and 90 percent of them are caring for an aging loved one. Although you have the desire to be the caregiver for your parents, taking care of an elderly parent can be a challenging undertaking. Whether you are planning to provide for your parent physically, emotionally, financially or completely providing care, there are a number of things to consider before taking on the role of caregiver. Here are some things you’ll need to know when taking care of your parents.
One of the first and most important factors of caring for your elderly parents is looking at where they live. Do they currently live alone and do they currently live close to you? Will they remain in their home, will you live with them, or will they move in with you? These questions are critical when it comes to determining not only the type of care they will need, but to what degree of care they will need. For instance, if they currently live in their own home and aren’t interested in moving, are you living close enough to be able to check on them regularly? Are they reliable when it comes to taking medications, or will you need to visit daily to ensure they are eating well, showering and taking medications as prescribed? It is important to take a close look at the situation and determine what, if any changes need to be made in regard to their living arrangement.
Finances are a difficult topic to discuss with your parents, but it is an important one. It’s essential that you are aware of what their insurance covers, what is out-of-pocket, how much your parents have in savings, what their living expenses are and how their living expenses are paid. As the caregiver, there may come a time when you will be responsible for taking over their finances, so it’s important to discuss this issue with them as soon as possible. It’s also recommended that you make arrangements with your parents to have access to their accounts, especially those that are used to pay their living expenses, such as the mortgage and utilities.
How Much Care Is Needed?
It’s important to keep in mind that elderly people are often apprehensive about expressing their needs. They may feel like they are being a burden by asking for help, or they may feel as though they are still fully capable of taking care of themselves. Some elderly people only need minimum assistance with their activities of daily living and health care needs, while others may require extensive assistance. When caring for your elderly parents, you may need to take over certain activities, so making a list of all the things they can and cannot do for themselves may be helpful when determining the degree of care your parents need in order to remain in their home.
Utilize Senior Resources
Sometimes, taking care of an elderly parent can become too much to handle, so, it’s extremely helpful to have a list of all senior services available in your area. For instance, if you are assisting your parent with showering, meal preparation, medication reminders and household chores as well as taking care of your own home and family, you and your elderly parent can benefit from the help of a home care agency. Along with talking to home care agencies, it’s also beneficial to add to your list information about adult daycare programs, meal delivery programs, respite care services and senior activities in the area. Utilizing senior resources will help to ensure your parents are getting all of their needs met, especially if they are living alone, even if you are with them full time, taking advantage of services, such as meal delivery programs will allow you to take a break when needed.
Balancing the needs of your elderly parents, yourself and your family can be overwhelming and challenging. Caring for your parents may require a few hours each day, or they may only require a few hours each week, but it’s essential that you consider your obligations before committing to be the primary caregiver for an elderly parent. If you aren’t realistic in what will be required of you physically, emotionally and time wise, it can burn you out or even lead to health problems of your own. If you become overwhelmed or ill, you will not be able to care for your parents, so it’s critical that you identify the signs of burnout, schedule me-time, take regular breaks, do not try to do everything on your own and ask for help when needed.