As an adult child, caring for aging or sick parent(s) is a major responsibility. While there are many factors and decisions to consider, there are also precautions the adult child should prepare for and try to avoid while caring for their parent(s).
- Failure to plan ahead. Be sure to take proactive steps for long-term care regarding your parent(s). Research the different living options that are available and what the best option may be for them; in-home care, adult daycare, independent or assisted living, etc. You can schedule a meeting with Dana Vouga, a Certified Senior Advisor, to discuss your specific situation and figure out together what the best options for your parent(s) may be.
- Emotionally unprepared. Failing to prepare yourself emotionally for the changes that come with aging parents can have a permanent effect on you. Give yourself enough time to become mentally and emotionally prepared, especially if you are now sharing your house with your parent(s), if they are suffering from an illness, or if they are experiencing memory problems that can contribute to moodiness or frustration. The more emotionally and mentally prepared you are, the more patience and understanding you will have with your aging parent(s) and other members of the household.
- Failing to understand the overall situation. Evaluating your parent(s) cognitive ability and overall health will help you understand their situation better and will lead to less frustration. Have them evaluated for dementia, early signs of Alzheimer’s or other degenerative cognitive disease, as well as a full health evaluation to better understand the care options, treatments and medications that might need to be changed or taken. Taking care of your aging parent(s) has many different aspects. You need to get the whole picture of what is going on, including, their health and mental capabilities (dementia, memory loss, Alzheimer’s), finances, long term care insurance, their wishes for what happens to them when they die, and making sure if there is a surviving spouse that they are cared for.
- Give them space to fail. It is natural to you want to protect your parents just like they protected you as a child. Try to remember that as a child, often times you needed and wanted your own space to try things yourself. The same goes for your parents, they don’t want to be treated like a child. All of these things are new to them as well and they need space to figure it out as long as there aren’t any extreme physical or financial risks involved.
- Failing to let your parents feel a sense of control. Everyone needs and wants to feel in control of their lives, no matter what age they are or how ill they become. It’s easy to just start helping your parents without their input, however, getting their thoughts along the way will help you and them make decisions and compromises in the long run.
- Neglecting to take proper care of you. It’s easy to become so caught up with taking care of your aging or sick parent, that you forgot about your own health. Remember, to take time for yourself every so often, find a support group, schedule and maintain regular doctor appointments. If you are not healthy and taken care of, it will reflect on the care you provide to your parent(s) and other members in your household. If you are feeling overwhelmed and have other family members that can help, reach out to them and see if they can take over once a week or with a specific job or chore.
- Updated, appropriate and powerful legal documents. Many seniors believe that it isn’t necessary to review their legal documents. “Oh, I had those prepared years ago…I’m set.” Helping your parent(s) understand that their life has probably changed a lot since they were prepared can help with other discussions like transitioning to in-home care or assisted living. Many Durable Powers of Attorney are prepared by an estate planning or general practice attorney are not adequate to protect your parent(s) quality of life and quality of care now that they are seniors. Call us at 636-394-0009 to schedule a FREE, no-obligation, initial conference.
There are several factors, issues and topics to consider while taking care of an aging or sick parent(s). It may seem overwhelming, however, by preparing in advance and becoming educated with your parent’s situation, will help eliminate stress and frustrations, and could save you and your family thousands of dollars and heartache.