Adults have a major responsibility to take care of their sick and aging parents. Many adults don't imagine their parents becoming seniors and do not fully comprehend the extent to which their aging parents would affect them. Figuring out your needs, understanding the options, and making the right decisions is the core of quality care to your sick and aging parent. This article explains how you should prepare for this task.
Start by Assessing Your Parents' Need
If your parents are aging and you haven't given a lot of thought to the possibility of needing additional help with their activities of daily living, it's time to make an assessment. Several warning signs indicate that an aging or an older person needs help. Below are a few subtle clues that you should look out for:
Cognitive and Memory Issues
It's common for an older adult to experience frequent memory problems. Young adults also occasionally forget where they put their car keys, but this is different from the recurring memory problems most older adults experience. These experiences are warning signs of the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Advanced dementia and Alzheimer's disease are characterized by forgetting where they went or where their home is, turning off the stove, and when to take their medication.
Other warning signs that indicate severe memory decline include the following:
- Sudden change in their sleeping patterns.
- Sleeping a lot during the day.
- Confusion or forgetfulness while performing familiar tasks.
- Failure to recognize familiar people.
- Missing commitments and appointments.
- Poor judgment in crucial activities like giving out banking details to unverified callers.
- Sudden change in personality or mood swings.
- Sadness or depression.
- A decreased interest in activities and hobbies that they once enjoyed.
- Taking incorrect medication or dosage.
You should be concerned if your parents show multiple warning signs of loss of memory. However, failure to take a single dose of medication on a busy day for your parents should not cause much concern.
Change in Physical Abilities
Most chronic conditions lead to a decline in physical conditions as time goes by. For instance, arthritis can make it difficult for a person to dress, walk down and down the stairs, or prepare meals. Most seniors suffer from heart disease, making it challenging while cleaning or maintaining their lawn. For parents with a history of stroke, you may leave them with weakness in one or both sides of their body, which greatly limits their physical ability.
If your aging parent is suffering from a chronic health condition, take note of the following symptoms that would impact their ability to perform their daily tasks:
- Difficult navigating the hallway or stairs.
- Problem balancing, which is usually characterized by holding onto the wall or furniture while walking around the home.
- Limping or expressing pain when moving.
- Problems getting up from a seated position.
- Slips and falls.
- Sudden loss of appetite or losing weight significantly.
- A drastic decline in hearing and vision.
Apart from the obvious signs of physical impairment, there are other subtle signs that an aging adult would experience while their physical ability is declining. These symptoms include:
- Poor hygiene.
- Living in a cluttered or dirty home.
- Leaving stacks of unpaid bills or unopened mail.
- Lack of fresh food in the fridge.
If you notice one or all of these signs, it's time to hold a conversation with your parents. Most aging parents are reluctant to admit that their physical and cognitive ability is declining, but it's essential to start planning how you will help them.
Think About Your Needs and Abilities
Before you assume that you are taking care of your parents, you should start by looking at your abilities and needs. Start by considering the following while evaluating yourself:
- Whether your health can allow you to take care of someone else physically.
- Whether you live close enough to your parent to determine whether you can manage to visit them more often.
- Whether you would want to live with them in their house or yours.
- The kind of relationship that allows you to spend time with your parents without creating negative feelings for your parents and family.
- Whether you have the personality to provide the care that your parents needs.
- Whether you are willing to learn how to take care of your parents.
Everyone would want to take care of their parents. However, it's not selfish if they are not in the best position to handle this task. You can always look for other means to take care of your parents without being personally involved and remain their supportive and caring child. Otherwise, ignoring this fact would burn you out both emotionally or physically, and you wouldn't be able to help your parents or yourself.
Include Your Parents in The Planning Process
Nobody wants to lose control of their life, especially those concerned about losing their independence. That's why it's recommendable to involve your parents when planning to take care of them. This helps them see you more as a partner rather than someone who's making changes in their lives.
Your parents will likely be resistant in the beginning, so it would probably require multiple conversations. As long as your parents aren't in immediate danger, try not to force changes too quickly. You should start with a less invasive approach and increase the level of help as time goes by.
Help your parents to accept assistance by focusing on one or two critical needs if there are no immediate needs at hand. Afterward, you can slowly add to the needs until they agree that they need help.
Think About Your Financial Situations
Taking care of your parents will have a lot of financial impacts. That's why you should evaluate your financial ability before you make any major decision regarding your parent's care. Fortunately, there is financial support from different government programs that would offset your parent's living expenses. Look for all programs that your parents might be eligible for to reduce the financial burden that might fall on you.
Your parents might also need help in the management of their finances and retirement funds. It's crucial to help them as early as now to guarantee their financial security in their senior years. If you want to be a caregiver, you can take advantage of the tax relief from the deduction of their medical expenses and other dependents they might have on you.
You can also ensure that your parents receive help during the tax seasons provided by various programs providing free assistance to seniors.
Educate Yourself Through Supportive Resources and Groups
You're not alone. Many organizations and groups, both government and independently funded, assist and help ailing and sickly seniors. Taking the step to educate yourself guarantees the best assistance and support to your seniors. Some of the resources you can rely on are as follows:
You should look for various government benefits that would help your parents. You can find programs that would offer assistance covering your senior's health, disability, or wealth based on their previous service to the government, education level, and more.
The National Council on Aging is the nation's comprehensive web-based service that can help you search for relevant programs for older adults with low income all over the United States.
You can find program related to:
- Prescription drugs
- Legal aid
- In-home services, and many more
Think About their Living Arrangements
Looking into and knowing where your elderly parents will live is a critical step in ensuring their well-being. Some of the questions that you should ask yourself about their living include:
- Whether they are living alone.
- Whether there are other relatives or supportive relatives nearby.
- Whether they prefer staying in their home or are open to moving to a more supportive environment or location.
These are critical questions to consider and discuss seriously with your parents. However, there are several living arrangements that you can choose for your parents. These living arrangements include the following:
Most parents love hanging onto their homes even at their old age. If this is the choice for your senior, you should make some adjustments to their home to make their living more comfortable, as discussed below. You should also have someone to live with them, possibly a professional caregiver or a family member.
Independent Living Communities
Independent living communities are suitable for seniors who can buy or rent a home or apartment in a community with other seniors. These assisted communities provide facilities like a clubhouse and a gym. They also provide security, yard maintenance, housekeeping, laundry services, transportation, and group meals. However, most of them don't offer medical support or individual meal services.
Assisted Living Communities
Assisted living communities are suited for seniors who are still relatively independent but may require assistance and caregiving with their daily activities like bathing, dressing, medication, and transport. These communities offer rooms or apartment rentals that your senior can live in. They also provide amenities for social activities and services like housekeeping and laundry.
Nursing homes are suitable for seniors requiring a living environment with caregiving and medical surveillance. Most of the seniors needing these facilities usually suffer from chronic conditions or require short-term rehabilitative care. Nursing homes offer nursing staff-on duty 24/7 and other necessary medical services.
Living with a Family Member or Relative
Seniors needing assistance with their daily activities and some extent of health care needs can live with a relative or family member. This kind of decision provides an affordable option to assist your seniors and guarantees companionship with someone they are familiar with.
Take Care of Your Parent's Safety Basics
If your parents decide to live in your home or at their home, you should take care of their safety in these places. Safety hazards in a house can easily make a senior trip, fall, or even hurt themselves. Some of the simple fixes that you can make include:
- Ensuring that the floor and walkway are clear of rugs, clutter, and cords.
- Installing grab bars in their bathroom and stair railing.
- Making the lighting brighter and placing the switches in a more accessible location.
- Ensuring that all appliances are working efficiently and are within reach.
- Minimizing the need to bend down or using step stools when performing daily duties.
Come up with a Simple and Accessible Communication with Your Parents
Another way to take care of your aging or sickly parent is to ensure that they can easily call for help and keep in touch with you. Apart from the safety hazards roaming in your parent's home, loneliness and isolation can have a severe impact on their overall health.
Therefore, ensure that your parent's phone is easy to access, and if possible, keep a pre-programmed number that will help them contact you more easily. If your parent is open to the idea of a wearable medical alert device, you can consider buying one for him or her.
Maintain A Little Flexibility in Your Plan
There is a high likelihood that you'll need to make a few tweaks to the care plan that you set for your senior. Many things concerning older adults are unpredictable, and sometimes they would force you to go out of your plans to accommodate them. That's why it's recommended to allow a little flexibility in your plans to mesh with the ever-evolving reality of taking care of an aging and sickly elder.
One of the crucial aspects that you should allow in your schedule is the willingness to step away and allow someone else to take over from time to time. It might be your siblings or a professional caregiver, depending on the extent of care your parents need.
Find a Reliable Home Care Service Near Me
Ultimately, everyone is responsible for taking care of their elderly parent(s), even when they don't live with them or provide regular care. No matter the kind of plans you have set forth to take care of your elderly parents, checking on their well-being gives you peace of mind. At Mom’s Home Care, we are committed to providing the best elderly home-based care services to those seeking them in Los Angeles, CA. Contact us today at 323-244-4789 for further inquiries about our services.