Caring for aging parents is a wonderful opportunity to reward them for the sacrifices they made during your childhood. Make love the catalyst for all actions.
By: Claire Bradshaw
Nothing can break the heart quicker than the realization that an aging parent is beginning to decline. At this time, loving children often step up to take some of the burden away from their loved ones by taking on extra duties and making some of the more vital decisions. This is not an easy time for family members, but it can be a precious time. The following tips may help you negotiate these later years a little easier:
1. Give Parents their Independence as Long as Possible
Human pride does not wane with age; we all enjoy feeling autonomous. When health or cognitive issues become problematic, consider the following ideas to prolong a parent’s ability to live independently:
– Add safety features to the family home. These might include ramps to replace steps, additional safety rails installed at strategic places around the home, or replacing standard tubs with showers or walk-in models.
Additionally, it might be necessary to install a stairlift to make it easier and safer to move from one level of the home to another.
– Arrange with Meals on Wheels or similar programs involved with feeding the elderly, or hire someone, to provide at least one hot balanced meal each day.
2. Keep a Sharp Eye on Medical Concerns
Appoint one person in the family to be in charge of all issues with medication. The elderly have difficulty remembering what medicines they are supposed to take and if they have taken them.
– Use a chart if a number of prescription drugs are involved.
– Always accompany a parent with fading memory to the doctor.
3. Work as Long as It Makes Sense
At first, it may seem that the best solution to caring for a parent is to stay with them twenty-four hours a day. This idea could backfire, however, and cause both mental and physical health issues for you and your family. It might be a much better solution to continue working and use that money to hire a professional caregiver, either full or part time.
4. Never let guilt enter into a decision.
Guilt never clarifies any situation; it only muddies the water. Make a chart of pros and cons when any decision needs to be made. Talk it over with other siblings or a trusted advisor or spouse, and then do not revisit the final choice.
5. Take Breaks When Needed
Caring for a parent is emotionally draining. It is important to recognize the times when mental or physical issues are reaching the breaking point. If children allow their own health to deteriorate, they will be completely useless in providing parental aid. Be sure to schedule some me time occasionally. If you cannot afford to pay for help, then ask a neighbor or relative to pitch in, just to relieve some of the strain.
Remember that caring for aging parents is a wonderful opportunity to reward them for the sacrifices they made during your childhood. Make love the catalyst for all actions.
About the Author:
Claire Bradshaw believes in the importance of aging in place and has personal experience of caring for an aging relative and the challenges this brings. She writes for a website that provides advice on buying or renting stairlifts, with a focus on helping the elderly remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible.
Photo: The Catholic Sun