Taking care of aging parents is always a challenge, but there are several ways to accomplish that objective and still remain sane and healthy yourself. Some parents require little assistance, as they are physically and mentally capable of taking care of themselves most of the time. Others require more monitoring, but can still be accommodated in ways that don’t require admittance to a care center. Here are a few tips to consider when your parents start to need some level of assistance.
Make Sure all Medical Appointments are Kept
As people age, they typically require more help with daily activities than younger people. That includes more appointments with doctors and other care providers. Review your parents’ needs, and help them make (and keep) their medical appointments. Many aging parents will need help getting to and from those appointments, so schedule them when it’s possible to accompany your parents to the appointments.
Also, many aging patients need an advocate, as care providers commonly neglect to fully explain issues or explain what is happening. At the same time, make sure the clinic takes advantage of all safety precautions, like using automated dispensing cabinets, to prevent accidents from happening during appointments. When patients are left alone for long periods when waiting for doctors or other care providers, it’s too easy to become curious and open cabinet doors in the examination rooms. Automated cabinets prevent aging parents from being exposed to dangerous drugs or equipment.
Get Help if You’re the Primary Caregiver
Many parents rely on their children to provide care as they age, and those children may be willing to provide necessary care. However, caring for your parents can quickly turn into a full-time job with no time off to rest. To prevent burnout, explore the various ways to obtain help. There are numerous organizations available to help when you need time away from those caregiving responsibilities.
Minor Changes in a Home Make a Huge Difference
When you’re caring for aging parents, there are home modifications that can make that chore far easier. In most cases, simply installing grab handles in showers and near the toilet make a huge difference. In some cases, ramps and wheelchair-accessible doors will need to be installed, but those expenses are generally affordable. If they aren’t, there are agencies specializing in helping people retrofit a home to accommodate older people.
Take the Time to Plan Meals
When taking care of your parents, meeting their dietary needs is essential. That can become problematic when physical issues make it harder to plan meals. Many older people have special dietary needs, which means it’s always a good idea to learn those needs and plan meals around them. If your parents can’t tolerate specific foods, don’t include them in the meal plans. When that means denying yourself foods you consider treats, devise ways to enjoy them in other settings when your parents won’t feel deprived.
Your Parents Must be Part of the Decision-Making Process
When at all possible, make sure your aging parents are fully involved in any caregiving plans. They will be much happier if they have some say in those plans. For example, if you’re hiring a provider for in-home care assistance, ensure the parents have an opportunity to meet and talk to a prospective care provider before that individual is hired.
Taking care of your elderly parents isn’t always easy, but using a few tips can make the process simpler. Take the time now to evaluate your parents’ needs and devise a comprehensive plan to meet those needs.