How To Keep Your Aging Parents At Home
Adult children ask the question of how to keep your aging parents at home after an unexpected event brings into question a parent’s ability to care for him or herself. When children begin to help elderly parents, it may be difficult to predict the future events that can and will happen.
Situational events and relationships with siblings and others can result in complications and conflicts that family caregivers feel unprepared or ill-equipped to solve. Aging parents can dig in their heels when they feel children may be telling them how to live their lives.
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Creating a plan to care for aging parents offers confidence and solutions for the future. Because caregiving can feel like a do-it-yourself project caregivers may be unsure what actions to take.
The role and responsibilities of being a caregiver are all-encompassing. Naivete and a lack of experience with aging, health, and aspects of care management translate into the unknown. Caregivers can spend hours researching information on the Internet only to come up empty-handed.
While initiating family conversations about caregiving is a step forward, many conversations about how to keep your aging parents at home don’t go as planned. Because the role of caregiving pulls together many skills: healthcare management, financial planning, legal, organization, teamwork, consensus building, advocacy, crisis management, decision-making, interpersonal skills, and more, it is common for caregivers to struggle.
What families don’t realize is that problems increase when the right questions are not asked. This is the old adage of being blind-sided by not knowing what you don’t know.
Changes In Health Predict Increasing Care Needs of Aging Parents
In hindsight, actions to remain independent and healthy into old age begin early in life when focusing on a career, going to school, or raising a family are more pressing priorities. The time when health prevention presents the most significant long-term opportunity is when adults are healthy and young.
As adult children begin to help parents with day-to-day activities and become involved with doctors and the healthcare system. There are many unknown factors.
Adults previously healthy who are diagnosed with high blood pressure or diabetes may rely on a doctor to provide all of the information necessary to manage the condition. This is faulty thinking. Managing health is the patient’s responsibility.
Because of the constraints of the healthcare system that include health insurance plans and operations of medical offices, most doctors are unable to provide detailed or extensive health education. Instead, time is devoted to responding to time-sensitive needs, which are usually the basis of a medical appointment.
The inability of physicians to spend time on patient education places the burden of self-care management on the patient. Over time, small changes in health grow in severity to impact physical and cognitive abilities that result in aging parents needing more and more help from adult children.
How to Keep Your Aging Parents at Home
Similar to the time constraints of the healthcare system, the lives of adult children have time limitations. While many adult children do their best to juggle work and caregiving and family and self-care, many family caregivers eventually find doing it all to be an impossible task.
The result is emotional stress, guilt, and frustration about how to keep aging parents at home. Because of experience in the workplace, some caregivers approach the role and responsibility of caregiving like a job or a project. In many aspects, this project management approach is positive regarding scheduling and managing time within the duties of daily life.
Health is the one area that, if not managed through preventative actions and thinking about future consequences will impact everyone. Being inattentive to health measures like high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, is an eventual recipe for disaster and regret about not being more attentive.
Attending medical appointments, managing prescription medications, and completing other health-related tasks for aging parents adds to the burden of care for adult children. This additional burden rarely affords the caregiver time to him or herself for self-care or self-reflection.
Many caregivers run from task to task, with one day running into the next. Weeks turn into months into months until the caregiver experiences mental and physical exhaustion.
Proactive Steps For Helping Aging Parents
Instead of being a caregiver who gets caught up in a whirlwind of responsibilities, take a step back and observe. Use these tips to help you help yourself and your aging parents. Caregivers who are happy, healthy, and feel supported provide better care and experience less stress.
- Initiate conversations about the type of help, frequency, and time commitment for helping aging parents so that you can establish realistic expectations. Relationships between aging parents and children go off track when these discussions do not occur early in the caring process.
- Establish expectations about goals for participation. Caregivers quickly take on too many tasks making parents more dependent on them instead of helping parents remain independent.
- Do only those tasks that aging parents cannot do for themselves.
- Talk about health diagnoses, medications, doctor appointments, and medical care regularly and openly to confirm that recommendations are followed.
- Attend medical appointments with parents to ask questions and be as informed as possible. Regular medical care is a preventative action that offers the opportunity to identify concerns early and act to reverse potential consequences.
Enlist the Services of an Elder Care Consultant
Similar to hiring an accountant or a CPA to manage accounting and tax issues, an attorney for legal matters, or a mechanic to repair your car, experts exist in the area of aging and caregiving who can save caregivers and the elderly time, frustration, and money. Planning for aging and the potential of needing care has many aspects that are similar to retirement planning, but that retirement planning alone does not address.
Discussing a plan for aging parents with an elder care consultant helps families identify areas that are unknown and avoid future problems. Instead of struggling to get by, consider these suggestions for how to keep your aging parents at home:
- Work with an elder care consultant to create a care plan for aging parents.
- The care plan should include the components of well-being and a healthy lifestyle: exercise, disease management, nutrition, socialization, mental stimulation, and personally fulfilling activities.
- Identify potential health and safety concerns and be able to recognize unexpected signs of changing health or indications an elderly parent may need more care.
- If your parent has a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s, create a plan for how care will be provided when your parent can no longer live alone.
- Discuss the potential costs of care services in the home and in the community to create a financial plan. The financial plan may include applying for Medicaid services if your parent’s assets will not be sufficient to pay for care costs.
- If there are family concerns about dependent children who rely on parents for financial support, create a plan to help siblings become self-sufficient and financially independent.
- Talk about end-of-life decision-making that includes appointing agents under a medical and financial power of attorney, creating a living will, and selecting a personal representative. Extend these discussions into making plans for burial and cremation.
Plan For Future Aging Parent Care Needs
While aging parents want to remain at home, limitations exist when the daily care needs of parents exceed what children can provide. Identifying options for alternate care is a must-have conversation before the care needs of parents reach this level.
Adult children can view parents as refusing help or being stubborn. Aging parents have the right to make their own decisions—both good and bad. However, if the outcome of decisions will impact the caregiver, adult children should establish expectations about their level of participation and ability to provide support.
Delaying or avoiding care discussion is certain to result in stress for the caregiver. A lack of discussion may create mistaken assumptions by aging parents that children will provide care.
There may be times when a hospitalization occurs, and parents need more care temporarily, or such a situation becomes permanent. Being a forever caregiver is not always possible or practical.
Caregivers experience significant stress as a result of care responsibilities. While adult children may hesitate to discuss these concerns directly with aging parents, risks exist.
Health problems, a lack of self-care, and exhaustion on the part of a caregiver can result in poor care for a parent. Adult children may unintentionally neglect the care of a parent or make grave mistakes that harm aging parents. Parents who prefer help only from their children can fail to see or understand the stress that their children experience and how this can affect their care.
Caregivers can gain support and peace of mind through participation in support groups online or in-person, taking caregiver courses, or speaking with an eldercare consultant. Aging adults planning for their care benefit from participation in similar groups, courses, and consultations. Elder care consultations can also serve to support family discussions about care responsibilities.
Schedule an Eldercare Consultation Today
The importance of early care discussions, understanding how health and physical conditions increase care needs and creating a care plan that establishes expectations offers the greatest opportunity to minimize caregiver burden. As an adult child, you will gain confidence about how to keep your aging parents at home.
Schedule an Eldercare Consultation with Pamela D Wilson Today.
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