As parents grow older and start becoming less independent, they tend to turn to their adult children. For both of them, the new role can be difficult to adjust to. Children often have to juggle different life priorities and are sandwiched between the pressures of raising a family, building a career, and taking care of their parents.
This is no walk in the park. Then again, it is clear that you cannot just throw in the towel. The best way to steer away from common pitfalls is to embrace a proactive approach and plan for issues in advance. This helps you minimize financial struggles, emotional distress, and legal headaches.
Family members are the main support system for the elders who require care. There is a growing number of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients that rely on family members for care. This affects the unpaid caregivers because of patients like these, who are affected by life-altering illnesses, require around-the-clock attention.
Things get complicated for those who have their own kids to look after.
So, start by asking yourself serious questions and see where your head is regarding parent care. Be aware that providing care to your parents can have a profound effect on your daily routine, career, and social life. It can be emotionally draining to witness your parent’s health deteriorating by the day, despite your best efforts.
Apart from this stress, caregiving can also give rise to financial problems. Evaluate the cost of it, including hidden aspects. Expenditures like drugs, medical supplies, transportation, home adaptations, and home care can be a strain on a household budget, so see how you can mitigate the impact.
The good news is that there are several ways to actually get paid for providing care: private contract with a family member, a long-term care insurance policy, consumer-oriented medical programs, a paid family leave, etc.
Planning for the future
Burying your head in the sand is certainly not an option. If you do not make a medical and financial decision, somebody else will (usually the court). Therefore, have an open conversation with your parents. Honesty is a way to go, but bear in mind that parents should never get an impression that they are in the way or weighing their families down.
In any event, don’t argue. It is already bad enough that your elderly family member has only memories of their golden years now. Also, make sure a parent has a say in how the rest of their life should look like.
To make a decision together, assess the prospective medical and financial needs. Identify long-term care opportunities and crucial benefits. Come up with a long-term care plan in order to keep everything under control. Develop steady routines and care schedule. Nothing can replace this loving care, but know that sometimes it is not enough.
Some family members might not be willing to pull the weight, which can be quite hard for the family. Encourage these unwilling caregivers to share the burden and take some tasks off the plate of others. Assemble a dedicated support team.
Another thing you can do is seek professional aid and opt for in-home care. Specialized caregivers can step in when you are pressed by other obligations or have to go on a trip. This reduces the stress and time commitments for everyone involved.
Life in focus
You need to develop a deeper understanding of the parent’s illness and how it affects their mood, actions, and behavior. Dementia, for instance, is quite challenging because it involves a progressive biological brain deterioration. Still, there are strategies and tactics on how to communicate with such patients.
Of course, you must find a way to deal with the personality and behavior changes that take places, such as paranoia, memory loss, sleeplessness, and agitation. You cannot stop the wheel of time, but you can do a lot to make the deterioration more bearable.
Whatever you choose to do, you should never forsake your parents. Try to spend more time with them. One of the ways to support them is through family events. Make a wonderful holiday season more enjoyable for them with family meals, picnics, and other activities. Finally, encourage your parents to be independent as much as it is possible.
These small things and simple changes improve the quality of their lives significantly.
In control and balance
In the presence of worsening health, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and fearful for the future. However, this must not prevent you from seeing the bigger picture.
Do not let aging parents be left on their own or the cause of family strife. Your life does not have to turn upside down either. To navigate the complex world of caregiving, you need to plan for the future that will benefit the whole family. Be proactive about all aspects of providing care.
Learn as much as you can about the illness and condition of the parent. Offer maximum protection, financial security, and flexibility. In the process, you need to retain your own balance and avoid succumbing to stress.