Here are the major concerns that families face when parents start to age and how to prepare your family properly.
Determining Where Your Parent Should Live
Every family's situation is different. Is your parent temporarily immobilized due to a fall or hospitalization, or is the condition one that will worsen over time, such as Alzheimer's? Does your parent need help bathing and dressing? Do they need constant supervision, or someone to check in on them occasionally? The answers to all of these questions – and many more – will need to be taken into consideration when deciding where your parent will live.
Caregivers must look for the warning signs to determine if a parent is safe living at home alone. Whether senior will remain at home or not, there are concerns for the family.
- Making Them Safe at Home - If they are going to remain in their home, or move in with a family member, some simple modifications can make the home safer.
- Finding Senior Housing - If your parent can no longer live independently, moving them to a senior housing facility, such as assisted living or skilled nursing is the best plan of action. Finding the right home for your parent depends on the level of care they need and their lifestyle.
Covering Your Legal Bases
If your parent were suddenly incapacitated, do you have the legal authority to act on their behalf? To avoid the legal red tape, make sure you have the right legal documents in place, including: power of attorney, advance care directives, a will and if needed, guardianship.
Would you know what to do if you suddenly had to take over managing money and paying bills for your parents? Know where your parents keep their important paperwork and how to access their funds if need be.
Paying for Care
Do you parents have long-term care insurance, or money set aside for their care? Are they eligible for Medicare, Medicaid or Veteran's Assistance? If not, there are some government resources that can help cover the cost of care.
Managing Medical Care
To help doctors provide your parent with the best care, provide them with a full medical history, a record all of prescription medications, and attend the visits with your parents when possible. Don't be intimidated or afraid to ask questions and bring up concerns with the doctor. Also, have your parent sign a medical release form, so the doctor has permission to speak with you directly about your parent's health.
Talking About the Future
When a parent is ill, plans for the future must be made. Holding a family meeting helps make sure everyone is informed and on the same page. There is another crucial, but difficult conversation that must take place, and that's with your parent. Start an open, honest conversation, but be prepared for resistance. Discuss your parent's current needs, limitations and concerns, and let them state their wishes for the future.
Coping with the Reality of Caregiving
The emotional and physical health of the lead caregiver should be a top concern for the rest of the family. There should be offers to provide relief time for the caregiver. This can include coverage so that the lead caregiver can get out to dinner, movie or a walk in the fresh air. Without such relief, the physical and mental toll can be heavy on the lead caregiver.
Finding Help Locally
There are many professional and volunteer services available in every region of the , with information and coordination provided by the Area Agency on Aging, a federally-mandated organization staffed by professionals who know every elder program and service in your area.
Dealing with Death
Death is inevitable, but knowing this alone does not make it any easier to endure the loss of a loved one. Everyone deals with death differently. Talk to family members to ensure each person has the support and coping mechanisms they need.