Not many children like to think about their parent’s getting older. However, as painful as it may be, there may come a time when mom or dad can no longer look after themselves properly. It could reach a point where they will not be in a position to drive, or even feed and put on clothes by themselves.
Adult children who have older parents need to come up with a suitable plan on how best to look after their senior citizen parents so that they enjoy their golden years. We have put together a list of helpful guidelines on how to stay sane, have fun, and meet the needs of the retirees satisfactorily in various scenarios.
If one does not have any help when caring for their parents and the parents are still mostly independent, there is a lot they can do to look after them such as:
Despite the fact that it may probably be not the most comfortable thing to do, it is essential to have the conversation with your aging parents. It helps adult children to take care of their parents in a way that respects their wishes ad gets rid of any confusion.
Start by letting them know that even though it may be far off, time will come when they will need a little bit of assistance. To do so, adult children need to know what their mothers and fathers want as well as where things stand. Some important questions to ask may include:
• Do they foresee themselves in a senior living community
• Their financial status and where their money is
• Who are their doctors?
• The type of insurance they have
• Are their crucial retirement documents complete, i.e., standard will, power of attorney, healthcare proxy, living will, and are those documents in the right hands?
• Would they like extraordinary measures to be put in place to prolong their lives?
Children should never assume that they know what is best for the aging parents. It is because their parents will probably know quite well how they would like to receive care and what they foresee happening when they get older. For instance, if a father or mother starts to struggle to live independently, tell them in a kind and compassionate manner the observations made and ask them for an opinion on how best to handle the issue.
If one can no longer drive, a child may decide that it is best to drive their loved one around while their parents may deem it fit to take a cab to their destination. Listen keenly to what your parents have to say to come up with a solution that works well for everyone.
Many adult kids want to invade the space of their aging parents completely. Most members of the older generation do not appreciate this especially if they can still lead somewhat independent lives. They want their kids to be there for them in a way that does not make them feel like they are a burden or incapable of doing things on their own. They also don’t want to feel like they don’t have control over their lives, especially so during the time when they are most fragile and vulnerable. Try and have a meaningful relationship with your parents and only offer help when they need it so that they are still in control of their aging years.
As people become older, they become frail which puts them in harm’s way. If they want to remain at home, do the necessary home modifications that will ensure they are safe and happy. These can include having grab bars in the shower or having wall to wall carpets to minimize the risk of falling. When parent do not want to move to a senior community just yet, their adult children can let them move in with them to keep a close eye on them to make sure that everything is okay.
Remember that adult children also need to look after themselves even when still caring for the aging parents so as not to experience caregiving burnout which comes with multiple detrimental effects.
If looking after aged adults alone is not a viable option, one can explore getting in-home care. It allows offspring to look after their parents while still going about their day to day lives without worrying too much or taking on more responsibilities than what they can handle.
Remember not to force a relationship between the caregiver and the parents, especially during the first days. Let them ease into each other at a slow pace so that both parties can be comfortable with each other to have a great working or even family-like relationship. Take time off to be around your parents when the professional caregiver is around to observe how they relate to each other.
Communicate the needs of retirees clearly to the caregivers and make sure they deliver services that the parents request and deserve. Get to know the hours they will come to the house and whether they will be available to handle any emergency situations. The experts can help with many daily living activities and some areas like:
• Household care - cleaning, cooking, shopping, and laundry.
• Personal care - Bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, and toileting.
• Emotional care - conversation and companionship.
• Healthcare - physical therapy, medication management, and physician’s appointments.
Assess the needs of the aging parents to make sure that they receive the proper care from the right person. Do not be scared of letting someone go when it is not working out so that at the end of the day your parent ends up getting valuable services that they need. Some families find it comforting to use technology to monitor care when they are not within the vicinity. An example is investing in a camera system that allows them to remotely be aware of what is happening in their parent’s home. Putting up cameras in the house or apartment may also not be a bad idea – but make sure to disclose this to the home care assistants. This way, you can check on your parents throughout the day to make sure not only that they are okay, but that the in-house home care assistant is treating them kindly and with respect.
One has to be very careful before bringing someone into the home to look after the people they love. Do thorough research on the home care agencies you will be dealing with. Take time to do interviews to identify a great match. Adult children should also be careful to work with an expert they can afford without straining too much financially. Many older adults will qualify for in-home aides to be compensated via Medicare.
It is not always possible to have parents move in with their children or have them stay in their homes during old age. Sometimes, moving to an assisted living facility makes the most sense to help senior citizens enjoy fulfilling, safe, active, and healthy post-retirement years. Some reasons it may be necessary for one’s parents to consider residing in retirement homes include:
Several options depending on a person’s situation are available when it comes to senior living facilities, including:
• Independent Living Facilities - These are perfect for the elderly who are still independent and are only seeking to live in a community with their age mates. Here they are in full control of their lives since they need minimal assistance.
• Assisted Living Facilities - seniors move here when they require some help with their day to day lives. Professionals who work at these facilities assess the needs of their clients to ensure that they live as independently as they possibly can while still getting the help they deserve, both with personal or medical needs. A majority of facilities also include memory care units for the elderly who have Alzheimer’s or Dementia.
• Skilled Nursing Facilities - These facilities welcome retirees who require around the clock care from skilled medical professionals and other caregivers. They also offer short-term rehabilitative stays following injury, illness, or surgery. They avail services such as daily housekeeping and planned activities.
When parents move to the retirement homes, it does not mean that their children should not do anything to continue offering support. There are several things they can do for their older parents in the senior living facilities so that they still feel loved and cared for including:
Take time to visit the aged parents in their new home as many times as possible. It is a valuable experience that lets them know that they were not dumped into the facility and that their family forgot about them.
There are plenty of things to do when you visit such as making jokes, going through photo albums, taking part in the activities that the communities offer, cooking and eating together and just having a great time. It is something that will leave a huge smile on the aging parents’ faces and give them memories that they will treasure for the longest time.
Life in the retirement community can become quite monotonous. Plan for activities outside of the community so that your parents can have a change of scenery and just spend quality time with the people they love. It does not have to be a vacation to another country. Simple things like going shopping, visiting various sights, going for a movie, dancing, or wine tasting can make a huge difference in the parent’s life.
Many agree that the bond between grandparents and grandchildren is really strong. Taking grandkids to visit their grandparents is something that can bring both grandparents and their grandchildren immense joy. Be sure to let the little ones know where they will be going as well as what to expect when they get there.
Talk to caregivers to know the best time to visit. Where possible, let the children come with gifts such as handmade cards or colorful drawings or anything else that will show love and care. Never be in a hurry when visiting so that your parents do not feel like their loved ones are trying to run away from them. It is also important to keep promises – if you make plans to visit, you should always keep them.
Many seniors nowadays are tech-savvy. They know how to use phones, computers and many are on social media. Children should make a point to always keep in touch to understand how their aging parents are doing. It helps to see if they are comfortable in their senior community. Parents can alert their kids in case of any complaints without having to wait for their kin to visit. Call, text, email, and face time letting them know what is happening so that they are always in the loop. Share photos and videos and just make their days as often as possible.
It is essential especially for those older children who live close to the retirement community to be hands-on in regards to taking care of their parents. They can involve themselves in activities like health care decision making, doctor’s appointments, and financial affairs. They can also help in things like decorating new living spaces to make them as comfortable as possible, which eases the transition from the previous home into the current residences. Being as involved as you can in your older parents lives will ensure that both you and your parents are happy.