Caring for your elderly parents can feel like a lonely job, but you are not alone…
According to Pew Research, roughly 17% of adult children in the U.S. provide care for aging parents, and about 12% of those are multigenerational caregivers. That means they are primary caregivers for a parent or aging relative while still taking care of children at home.
Your job of caring for a parent isn’t easy, which is why we’ve put together the following 5 commandments, all aimed at making your life easier and allowing you more time to take care of yourself.
1. Review A Guide To Caring For Aging Parents
First, it’s important to have a big-picture view, so you don’t become entrenched in the smaller, day-to-day tasks and requests that allow things to snowball into more acute, crisis mode issues.
We’ve put together a guide to caring for aging parents, touching on some of the major points associated with the overarching caregiving needs you’ll be experiencing now and over time.
We also recommend consulting with a few licensed, caregiving agencies. Consultations are usually free, provide a wealth of information and education about your options, and can help you determine which licensed, homecare agency feels right for you. This simplifies things when it’s clear you need to enlist experienced, outside support.
2. Get Your Financial Ducks In a Row
Establishing finances – as well as potential resources – is a critical part of creating a long-term, senior care plan. These conversations aren’t always easy, but many families have an example of a senior who went from perfectly healthy and independent, to later requiring hospitalization, a nursing home, assisted living or other forms of around-the-clock, full-time care.
It’s better to have important legal and financial conversations now, so you’re prepared for the future – whatever that may look like.
It’s important to learn more about what you can expect financially, should you use home aides and other forms of outside support to keep a parent in the comfort of their own home. If your parents have medical conditions that require more specialized home health care services or long term care, there may be additional costs to be aware of.
For more information, review Financial Planning For Your Senior Parents, which covers important topics such as:
- How to start important (often difficult) conversations
- Establishing important legal matters, including Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA), guardianship (for parents with dementia or Alzheimer’s), wills, living trusts, etc.
- Current and prospective income, expenses, and budgets
- Information about Advanced Directives
3. Get Other Family Members & Loved Ones Involved
Often, one adult child takes the lead, plowing ahead without much support or input from other siblings or nearby relatives. This can be trying in terms of family caregiver burnout and stress, as well as unfair to everyone involved. All parties deserve input and the ability to help out in the manner that feels best for them.
Include your parents and other members of the family as you create, implement and move forward with your parent’s care plan. While you may be the point person, main contact or the one doing the most work, you may be surprised at how including others in the conversation yields:
- Financial contributions
- Meal planning/preparation
- Driving to appointments or errand running
- Providing respite care when you need a break for important engagements
- Creating a visiting schedule for more regular companionship as well as wellness checkups
Every bit of extra care and support contributes to the whole and keeps others more realistic about what home care really requires for your parents. Otherwise, it’s easy to wind up playing the martyr, while others remain oblivious or in denial about how much time and energy is needed.
The more people and older adults you involve in your parent’s personal care, the more likely it is that someone will recognize the signs indicating more support is required to keep your parents healthy and safe.
4. Plan Baby Steps Into Homecare Services
The idea of going from completely independent to having a stranger (a.k.a home aide) come into your home every day is daunting for anyone.
Instead, plan baby steps into home care services. This way, your parents become accustomed to small doses of support, establish trust and rapport with their homecare provider, and will have an easier time accepting more frequent help down the road.
The best ways to take small steps into home care services include:
- Hiring a licensed caregiver to run errands and/or go grocery shopping once per week
- Schedule a driver to come by and take your parent to their weekly appointments, social engagements and other activities around the community
- Use a respite care provider so you can take care of your own medical/health or important family appointments
Establishing small, intermittent relationships with a caregiving agency eases a senior’s way into accepting larger doses of help as needed.
Read At Home Care Services Guide, to learn more about à la carte homecare services available to you.
5. Seek Elderly Support Services In Your Area
This commandment is critical, particularly if you have parents who are resistant to bringing in outside help. From senior-centric public transportation to organizations such as Meals on Wheels, almost every town and city in America offers support to its elderly residents, you just have to figure out what those support options are.
Check in with the following resources to learn about the services offered to seniors in your area:
- Public transportation systems, including Uber Health or Dial-a-Ride
- Local senior centers
- Churches and religious centers in the area
- Other nonprofits focused on senior services and well-being
Abiding by these five commandments of caring for your elderly parents can create an easier experience as you guide your parents toward a home-based caregiving arrangement that is comfortable and stress-free for everyone involved.
Georgetown Home Care provides experienced, compassionate staff members with the goal of keeping senior residents in their homes as long as possible.
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