6 Ways to Care for Aging Parents
As your parents age, it can be challenging to know if you should give them independence, coordinate professional help, or consider a senior living community. At the end of the day, this decision is driven by many factors, including a new diagnosis, your capacity to help, and your parent’s quality of life.
There are many ways to care for your parents, whether you care for them in their home, move them into your own home, or work with them to find a senior living community for their next phase of life.
Let’s explore the many ways you might provide support during this season of life.
How to care for aging parents in the home
1. Assist with activities of daily living
Activities of daily living (ADLs) are the tasks that we often don’t think about needing until we struggle to provide them for ourselves. This includes dressing, bathing, grocery shopping, and other daily tasks.
Likewise, instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are more complex daily activities that often require extra assistance as people age. For example, taking medications, making meals, and taking care of a home can all become more challenging as age impacts daily capabilities.
Children with elderly parents may choose to take care of all these activities for their parents on their own (or with the help of others in the family). Others may choose to help with ADLs and hire someone to help with IADLs. And for some, professional care is the best route for both the child and the parent.
2. Manage medical needs
From making appointments to providing medication on time each day, senior parents often require more medical assistance as they age. This might require:
- Coordinating rides to doctor’s appointments and pharmacy trips
- Ensuring medication adherence
- Sticking to physical care routines
3. Oversee legal matters and finances
Your parents may get to a point where managing finances (including paying bills) can become too challenging or confusing. Some adult children may choose to take this task on themselves, or they may hire someone to assist the family with keeping up to date on these specific finances to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
4. Arrange in-home care for aging in place
Many times, seniors don’t require the level of care that senior living provides (or are not comfortable living in a senior living community yet). In these cases, children may help coordinate in-home care, including navigating care costs and identifying in-home care options that insurance will cover.
For some families, this might even include moving your parents into your home so that you can care for them.
5. Manage family relationships
If there is more than one child in your family, it’s important to coordinate and set expectations around who will be in charge of what when it comes to parental care. This helps make sure that time spent with your parents is beneficial and covers all of their needs. Identifying visit times or specific activities that each child will manage can help keep you organized and give you peace of mind.
6. Know your limits
It’s important to prioritize your own self-care as you take care of your parents as they age. This might mean talking to your parents about a senior living care environment if you do not feel equipped or available to move your parents into your own home or frequently stop by their home to provide needed support.
How to care for aging parents when you can’t be there
So what can you do for your aging parents if you don’t live nearby (or don’t have the ability to care for them yourself)?
In many cases, senior living communities are a way to give parents the person-to-person stimulation they need, as well as the extra bit of care they require as they age.
Senior living communities are not just for seniors who cannot care for themselves. In fact, there are many types of senior living options, including:
Special considerations for caring for parents with Alzheimer’s/Dementia
Care needs shift drastically when a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Because of the nature of these conditions, it is expected that care will increase over time as memory and daily abilities decline.
If your parent has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it’s important to start planning what steps you will take as the disease progresses. While one parent may choose to support their spouse, moving someone with Alzheimer’s to a care facility can be a necessary step to provide the best quality of life for all involved.
Memory care programs are specifically designed for the needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These programs are designed for the unique social and physical needs that individuals require when they are managing a cognitive challenge.
Giving your parents a quality life as they age
If you are worried about your parents’ quality of life, or preparing to take on a new role in your parents’ lives as they age, now might be the right time to learn more about all a senior living community can provide. When you know all of your options, you can work with them to help make the best choice for the next phase of life.
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