Nobody wants to think about their parents reaching that age when they are no longer able to safely look after themselves. But while it’s an uncomfortable topic, it is also an extremely important one. Old age can be fickle, and serious health problems can sneak up on seniors without warning. Which means that the more prepared you are to handle these issues, the better off you and your ageing parents will be. So, if you are in the dark about where to begin when it comes to the process of caring for your ageing parents, here are a few helpful first steps to take:
Prepare the Family for “The Talk”
If you have siblings, it might be a good idea to sit down and discuss the topic with them first. Get their feelings and ideas about elderly care, and go over your options and finances so you have a clear idea of where you all stand. From here, you can prepare some questions and ideas to bring up with your parents when you are ready to discuss it with them.
Bring Your Parents into the Conversation
If it’s not easy for you to think about your parents getting older, imagine how they feel. It’s a big, difficult subject, which means it’s not something you just want to bring up out of the blue. So, after you have discussed it with your siblings, you should plan a family sit down with your parents to discuss their options and get their feelings on the subject. This is often a very emotional conversation, so it’s not unusual for it to be met with resistance, or even become heated. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but if you have prepared some questions in advance, and are willing to listen and be open, you’ll be more likely to successfully diffuse some of the tension and create a better environment for open discussion.
Weigh the Options
From assisted living communities, to nursing homes, to adult day care, there are a number of available options out there when it comes to elderly care. And deciding which one is right for your parents depends on a number of different factors, including finances, your parents’ health, and your parents’ personal preferences.
Caring for Parents at Home
It is understandable that most seniors do not want to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. So, if your family decides that it is feasible and responsible to care for your parents at home, here are two major considerations to take care of before the big move:
- Sharing Care Duties – Caring for parents at home requires you to make some serious changes in your home life. So, whether it’s with your siblings, or your spouse, it is important to set clear guidelines about who will be doing what and when, so that no single member of the house feels overburdened by the caregiving duties.
- Preparing the House – Whether you move into your parents’ home, or they move into yours, you will probably need to take a few adaptations to keep the house safe, and provide adequate care. This can include adding grab bars, ramps and stair-lifts and adjusting furniture and lighting to ensure easier accessibility for parents with mobility or vision problems. This will also involve making sure your home is stocked with the proper medical equipment, home health care products, janitorial cleaning supplies, and dietary items that your ageing parents need to stay as comfortable and healthy as possible at all times.
Caring for your parents can be both a joy and a strain. It will require you to adjust your lifestyle, work schedule, spending habits and more. But if you are able to make your ageing parents as comfortable and happy as possible, and keep them at home and close to their family for as long as it’s in their best interest physically, it can be an extremely rewarding process. But, like all major undertakings, be sure to check in every now and then to reassess the situation, and determine whether it is still the best thing for everyone involved. It can be difficult to admit when your parents need more care than you are able to provide, but the best thing you can do for them is be honest about your limits.