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I remember four years ago when my mother was diagnosed with dementia. There was this mountain of responsibilities that had now shifted to my shoulders. An unfortunate truth about getting older is all the added responsibilities. I tell my kids all the time to, “Stop rushing to grow up, and enjoy your youth.” Why? Because all that awaits are the bills and headaches of adulting. One of those major responsibilities that many never quite plan for is that of caring for your aged or disabled parents. In fact, 15% of adults between the ages of 40 – 50 are responsible for taking care of their children as well as their elderly parents, with a total of 46% that have kids and retirement age parents they expect to have to care for soon.
Where do you start with such a sensitive and vast subject? Sensitive because it requires acknowledging the reversal of roles that were thought to be cemented. The child now takes care of the parent, and in essence the parent has to submit or acquiesce to their child.
There’s no easy way about it, but you can save yourself some unnecessary headaches by doing your research & being prepared. Start here with this list of insights and resources to assist you in providing the care your parent needs.
Research & Resources
Dealing with my mother’s diagnosis left me stressed, overwhelmed, and a bit resentful to say the least. Her doctor’s had restricted her from driving on her own, which she managed to take in stride. My mother was already living in an apartment complex for seniors, and they helped me a great deal throughout her transition. I’m so grateful they provided weekly social worker check-ins and other resources to educate and keep the seniors active.
If you find yourself at this stage, not knowing what to do next, breathe easy. There are numerous resources available that are invaluable to allowing a smooth transition and easy eldercare management.
Before you think dollar signs, start with the free resources. They may be all you need. Here are a few:
Start with the Social Security & Medicare websites
- If your parent is on either, there are additional services they may be entitled to receive for free.
Town or City government website
- Elder care services are listed separately and can point you to facilities and elder care management workers to assist you.
- Have vital information and programs offered specific to elderly patrons
- An organization that offers discounts, services, insurance and more, specific to the elderly.
Call any or all of these resources to see what is available and determine what best suits your parents’ particular situation.
From doctors’ visits, prescriptions, to life insurance and estate planning the costs quickly add up. A living will, a durable power of attorney, and a healthcare proxy form are some of the preliminary paperwork that must be established to document your ability to speak on your parent’s behalf and allows you to make certain important decisions. These and other documentation require legal assistance to properly create.
Use your resources, whether a geriatric care manager (a social worker that specializes in elder care) to assist you and help you streamline the paperwork and expenses involved.
2. Walk a Mile in Their Shoes
It’s a common saying that you don’t know a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. This meaning that it is very easy to judge from outside the situation, but put yourself in that person’s place. How would you feel? How would you want to be treated?
The same goes for our parent. Empathy is necessary. Find a compassionate way to broach the subject with your parent, and have an honest discussion about the situation. Ask them how they’d like to handle it, and make suggestions. Ideally, they’d like to maintain their independence for as long as possible. Offer options such as having a home aid attend to your parents a few hours a day, which allows the elderly person to stay in his home.
Be considerate and choose a course guided by how you’d like to be treated when you are in the same situation down the line.
3. They May Not Want Your Help
People like the familiar, and tend to resist change. Anything that requires a new routine, or a modified way of thinking is often met with opposition. Once you understand that the frustration and sometimes even anger you receive when offering help has more so to do with your parent’s feelings of inadequacy than any personal issue with you, then you can have an objective perspective.
It may take an outsider to deliver the information for your parent to be able to receive it. Remember that it’s difficult on both sides, so expect to have to discuss the subject on multiple occasions in different ways before a mutual understanding will take place.
4. Get the Support You Need
Don’t go it alone. If you have other siblings, or relatives that can help, by all means divvy out the responsibilities. It’s a lot for one person to have to care for an aging (possibly sick) parent, along with his many other life responsibilities as well. If other family members are not an option, then a home health aide or an adult day care program may be a good option to provide help in managing the elder parent’s care and activities.
Also, there are support groups for adult children having to care for elderly parents. These can offer the support and advice the person needs to keep a good perspective and beat the feeling of overwhelm and stress often associated with this obligation.
5. Blessings in Disguise
Scientific development allows people to live longer. Although the care of an aged parent adds increased demands and responsibility on the child, the benefit of stronger bonds and more time spent together may outweigh the costs. According to a research study by USA Today, “Generations relying on each other may create stronger ties.” Not only parent-to-child relationships can experience stronger bonds but also grandparent-to-grandchild.
As with most things in life, it takes having the right perspective. Then you can see the value added to your life, instead of focusing on the inconvenience. I, personally, know the struggle and want to encourage those of you going through the process of helping an elderly parent that it does get easier.
Link Credit- https://www.thecreditsolutionprogram.com/5-things-need-know-caring-parents/