The Ultimate Guide to Caring for Elderly Parents
Around 29% of the adult US population have served as a caregiver for an ill, disabled, or elderly relative. It's natural to want to provide care for our loved ones as they age. For many, it's the process of coming full circle to care for their parents.
However, caring for elderly parents is a multi-faceted role and it's important that you understand everything that it involves.
Keep reading for a complete guide on how to care for elderly parents so you can best prepare yourself.
Assess How Much Care Your Aging Parent Need
If you're wondering how to care for older parents, the first step is figuring out how much care they actually need. Are they somewhat independent and only need help with some bigger tasks? Or do they require around-the-clock assistance?
Understanding the level of care that your elderly parent requires will help you to support them. Start by creating a list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that they require assistance with.
You can do this by having an open conversation with your parent or by keeping written notes of all the times that they ask for your assistance.
Consider the Types of Elderly Care Available
Caring for elderly parents can be a massive responsibility. You may feel that you can provide all the care that they need, or you may need to turn to professional caregivers and facilities.
There are several types of elderly care options to choose from. Aging at home will be the first choice for most seniors, and is completely possible assuming they don't require 24-hour assistance. Adjustments may need to be made to the home to make it easier for them to move around. You will be the main caregiver and support system in this case.
Of course, you could invite your parent into your home to live with you. This way they retain their independence and you can provide in-home care.
Independent living communities are a fantastic option for senior people who are active and independent. They will have amenities on-site, access to transportation, and live in a safe and secure environment. However, there are no medical services.
Assisted living communities are similar to independent living communities, however more on-hand assistance is available. This includes assistance with activities such as bathing, meals, and transport. If your parent is independent but needs some care, this is a good option.
Nursing homes are for seniors who require medical services and surveillance, for example, people who have chronic conditions.
What the Activities of Daily Living Might Look Like
If you choose to be the on-hand caregiver for your elderly parents, it's important to know what you expect. To retain dignity and wellbeing, there are some activities they should always try to complete themselves. These include tasks such as self-feeding, personal hygiene, and toilet hygiene.
If they are unable to carry out these tasks due to mobility issues or health problems, you'll need to assist. This can be extremely time-consuming and stressful, but you can seek out professional assistance or equipment which may make it easier.
Most commonly, caring for elderly parents will start with assisting them with bigger tasks. These include cooking meals, running errands, paying bills, buying groceries and necessities, and transporting them to doctor's appointments and the like.
You Need to Set Boundaries When Caring for the Elderly
You need to be realistic about how much support you can provide for your aging parents. It's difficult to set boundaries when it comes to family but it's essential for your and your parent's well-being. It can be easy to fall into the habit of doing everything that is asked of you, which will leave you feeling burnt out and stressed.
Healthy, realistic, and firm boundaries are important. This should be set early on through open and honest conversation.
What are your non-negotiable boundaries? Think about this carefully and write them down to discuss with your parents.
Seek Outside Help When You Need It
Don't feel ashamed to seek outside help, either from friends or family to share the load or professional assistance. The most important thing is providing the best possible care without sacrificing your mental and emotional health.
You could speak to family members about pitching in to help out with errands or meals. Share the responsibility with your loved ones.
Think about hiring a part-time caregiver if you don't have the time to do everything yourself. Or, enroll your parent into some fun classes or an adult day program to give you a break and an opportunity to socialize.
Consider Ready-Made Meal Services
Preparing and cooking food takes a lot of time and it's important that seniors consume nutritious meals. If your elderly parent requires assistance with meals, consider ready-made meal services.
There are plenty of incredible companies ordering tasty, affordable, and nutritious meal services. This takes some of the weight off your shoulders while guaranteeing that your parent remains well-nourished.
Plan the Financial Side
Caring for elderly parents can quickly become a financial strain as costs start to build up. Consider a financial plan the moment you become involved in your parents' care.
Speak to them about the finances they have at their disposal and consider your options. You can seek help from the government or private benefits programs if you need support.
Understanding the Expectations of Caring for Elderly Parents
It's vital that you don't jump blindly into caring for elderly parents. It's in the best interest of your parents and yourself to carefully consider everything involved in caring for an aging parent. Think about how much you can realistically do, the options available to you, and the finances you'll need.
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