For so long, your parents have been your refuge, provider and caregiver and then, the roles reverse. They now depend on you for assistance, to help them with their day-to-day tasks. This reverse situation can be both disorientating and confusing for many people.
Naturally, you want to be there for your parents. You want to see to their needs but you can’t help feeling emotionally depressed by the somewhat difficult circumstances. Faced with challenges in the form of medical bills and deciding how to utilise their assets in caring for them, frustration mounts up. Your parents may even make it more difficult for you by refusing your help or by simply not cooperating with you. But you can never consider giving up on them because at this stage, your parents may not even know what’s best for them.
What you can do instead is take practical steps that will help you stay focused and organised enough to provide them with the right care. No matter how unique your situation, these steps should help you manage the chaos more effectively
- Assess your financial situation
Caring for the elderly always involves spending substantial amounts of money. Evaluate the financial status of your family, how much you can afford in a month. Prepare yourself by making estimates of future costs. Take into consideration, the cost of medical bills, home safety modifications, food, caregiving supplies and so on. When you have their financial state carefully assessed, you can then decide on the best approach to take and whether to seek long term financial assistance from Medicaid, government programs or other available programs. A financial planner will be in the best position to help you acquire what you need to be eligible for programs like Medicaid.
- Make safety a priority
You should check around the house for safety hazards that could cause your parents to trip or hurt themselves. You don’t want them to become more dependent on you than they already are. Carry out simple fixes like building stair railings, clearing cords and clutter, repairing malfunctioning appliances and keeping appliances within easy reach.
With the rise of modern technology, it’s become easier to check up on the safety of loved ones even when you are not living with them. You can install helpful security systems like medical alert alarms and video surveillance in your parents’ home. If your parents reside in a nursing home, you can make inquiries about the security features in place so that you don’t have to worry so much about their safety.
- Involve other members of the family
You shouldn’t carry the burden of caring for your parents alone. You should involve your siblings, if you have any. Organise a family meeting, if possible, where you all can make relevant contributions on the best possible solutions to take. Each of you can have a specially assigned responsibility in caring for your parents. Create a schedule that will make it easy for all of you to stay updated on the current status of your parents’ health. When financial expenses are evenly distributed, they will be easier to handle. Find a way to make communications between you and your siblings or family members simple and more accessible.
- Know the aging care options available
To make the responsibility of caring for your aging parents less overwhelming, you have to explore the aging care options that are available. There are so many options you can choose from and you can consider any of the following
These are doctors who specialise in taking care of elderly people. They are experts in treating issues like dementia, multiple chronic health conditions and other illnesses specific to older adults.
- In-home caregiving help
You can hire caregivers like Gifted nurses to come and take care of your parents at home.
- Geriatric care managers
You can consult geriatric care managers for guidance. With their experience, you could save yourself stress, time wasting and unnecessary expenses.
- Area agency on aging
When you visit the government offices dedicated to serving seniors in your area, you can be linked to helpful government programs and local resources that will be of great benefit to you.
- Assisted living communities
You may have to consider senior housing options like assisted living if your parents need around the clock assistance.
- Make a list of important contacts
If you live far away from your parents, you will have to keep in touch with your parents’ caregivers and medical team mostly via the phone. As such, it’s important you gather all the contact information you’d need. On the top of your contact list should be the nurse, primary physician, local emergency services and insurance company. Don’t forget to get the contact details of anyone who can reach them faster like a family friend or nearby neighbour.
- Consider your own needs and abilities
This isn’t being heartless or selfish, you just have to be sure that you are in the best place to handle the responsibilities involved in caring for your parents. What is your current situation? Are you in good health? Can you live with your parents? How close is your house to theirs? Can you attend to emergency situations? All these are questions you have to answer honestly. Making arrangements that will favour not only your parents but you as well, doesn’t mean you are not a caring child.
It’s never easy to adapt to change, especially a disorientating one, but by following the right guidelines, you can navigate this issue more easily.