A Guide to Helping Aging Parents
Author: Andy Andersen
Knowing how to help aging parents is tough for everyone. It can be an unexpectedly difficult topic to address for all parties involved because it usually entails painful emotions that are difficult to process. If this is an experience you are going through, know that you are not alone and that it’s ok to feel what you’re feeling.
Here are some simple tips that will help you get through this difficult time and find your aging parents the right care:
Recognize the signs.
The first step in helping your aging parent is recognizing the signs that they need additional or professional elderly care. One adult child reported that it took his aging father driving his car through the back wall of his garage to realize he needed assisted living. But there are many simple signs that can let you know your parent needs help before anything that drastic happens:
Does your parent tend to wander, even in the short time it may take you to go to the bathroom, or step into the other room for a moment? They might be experiencing dementia.
Do they display aggravated behavior later in the day? This is another sign that they might be experiencing dementia.
Is their current home becoming a less safe place for them? If so, they probably need the attention that you can’t give them on your own.
Have an open conversation.
Broaching the subject of assisted living, or any kind of elderly health care for that matter, can be incredibly difficult for both parents and adult children. It can be especially challenging when a parent is refusing help. That’s why it’s best to recognize the early signs and approach the conversation before they need urgent help. It might also be necessary to enlist the help of others, in hopes that the more loving support they have, the more likely your parent will change their mind about getting help. If all else fails, know that you can call social services if your parent is of serious danger to themselves or others.
That all being said, remember that your parent is much more likely to agree to receiving elderly care if you have an honest, upfront, and open conversation with them about it. Communicate love and concern as you address this subject and discuss options. Let them know that you are looking out for their best interest and listen to their concerns as well. You may be surprised at how open they are to getting the help they need.
Scope out your options
It’s important to take the time and effort necessary to research your care options before deciding on any particular plan. If you’re concerned about your budget, remember: you’re looking for the right help, not necessarily the most expensive. In any therapy situation, it’s important to find the place where the patient will receive the individual, personalized care that works best for their condition. It’s easy to be quickly enamored by a care center or program that appears to be the most expensive, has the most state-of-the-art equipment, the newest looking facilities, etc. But the most expensive place isn’t always the right one; especially for the elderly.
If your parent is going to receive home care, there are plenty of options beyond simple housekeeping and daily check ups. Social work, chaplain assistance, and a wide variety of therapies (including physical, occupational, speech, and music) are just a few of the home care options available today. Click here for an idea of what kind of home care treatments are available to you and your parent.
Be your parent’s advocate
Empathy is key in establishing a healthy relationship between you and your parent at this stage of your lives. Empathize with your parents. Put yourself in their shoes and be their advocate with the rest of the world. Any nurse will tell you that it’s your responsibility to be your loved one’s advocate in any medical situation. Do your part to see that your parent’s needs are being met. No matter what the situation, continue to spend time with them. The more love and attention elderly parents have from their family members, the more likely they are to live a rewarding elderly life.