As one of the possibly several grown children of aging parents, sometimes the responsibility for looking out for them is shared equally and other times one son or daughter is the main concerned party. Whatever the situation, taking care of aging parents is no small matter. While they may be aging at varied rates with each parent needing different assistance over time, it’s a delicate dance as the roles reverse from the child to the parent from how they originally were. Not everyone is happy about the switch either, so consideration is needed at each step along the way to avoid ruffling any feathers.
Here are some recommendations about taking care of older family members, including your parents.
Help to Get Their Finances in Order
Whether they were always good with money or it has been a struggle that you heard about growing up, it’s likely that with age, money management has worsened. While they may not be willing to let you take over, they may be receptive to gentle suggestions. For instance, getting parents to use online banking or an app on their phone helps to give them better information about their money. When they’re less able to readily get down to the ATM, they won’t have ATM receipts with the latest balance on them. Therefore, online banking can provide much-needed clarity allowing for better financial management.
You may find that with time they let you take over bill paying or some other aspects of their money management. Suggesting setting up automated payments for bills can avoid expensive late charges. Other optimizations like cutting out unneeded channels on their cable bill will save more for them too.
Encourage Them to Take Walks or Go Swimming with You
For parents who aren’t very nimble and need a little encouragement to get out of the house or apartment, encourage them to participate in an activity with you. By suggesting that you would love to go walking, swimming, or do another activity with them “because we haven’t done that in x years” it’s likely to give them the impetus to try. Similarly, if a parent still has a little competitive pluck, you could turn it into a bit of a challenge. Giving them a head start or a shorter number of laps to complete in the pool would make it fairer and ensure they don’t overexert themselves.
Look at Meal Preparation Requirements
Some parents can be extremely picky with food. For example, they may be insistent on eating simple meals with just meat and potatoes, and won’t budge when it comes to trying anything different. As well as this, lifting heavy pans of water across a hob can lead to painful accidents. Similarly, using the grill that’s at a lower level may be a struggle now too. However, they may be adept at using the blender or the microwave. To ensure they are getting nutritious and varied meals without the risk of accidents, look into food delivery services that offer healthy meals which can be reheated without difficulty. This would help reduce the need to go food shopping and the food preparation time too. They’d then have spare time for other activities.
Assist Them with Personal Care
One of the aspects that can deteriorate over time is personal care. This is especially true if one parent passed away recently, leaving the other behind. They may feel that it’s not worth keeping up appearances any longer.
It’s also possible that they may worry about slipping in the bath or bending down to remove laundry from the washing machine. It’s possible they’re now skipping some of these activities. When visiting, you may observe this and not immediately appreciate what’s going on until you piece it together by asking questions.
In which case, see how you can help. This may mean a bi-weekly Sunday laundry day where you help them with the washing or if it’s too much, taking it to the launderette and returning with it. Or you may give them a weekly bath and sell it as “time to chat and catch-up” so they won’t feel so self-conscious about it.
Know When They Need More Help Than Is Available
When you don’t have as much time available to go to help them as their needs grow, it may be necessary to consider other living options. An assisted living facility is designed to provide services that make older people’s lives easier. The Alexandria senior living community from Brandywine Living provides a caring environment that enriches lives, so it’s an option worth looking into. Here are some of the benefits:
New Activities to Participate In
The range of activities both in a group setting and individually injects new life into daily living. As they are no longer separated from the community or unable to get around easily, an active assisted living facility opens doors that sometimes were closed before.
Support When Needed
Assistance with personal care and other matters is available to residents. This avoids older people needing to perform many chores at home that they were increasingly finding difficult to do. It can come as somewhat of a relief when someone else can either take over the reins or provide assistance when needed without feeling bad about it.
Adjusting as They Go
There will likely be an extended period of adjustment. As your parents get older, they will suffer from continual personal letdowns and setbacks. These will include finding it harder to get around, bathe and keep healthy. For a grown adult, they may often be embarrassed and not wish to share their troubles with their son or daughter too.
Just as they are adjusting to fresh trials, so must their children. Expect to need to reassess every few months for what they can handle and how you might be able to help. While they may have said “no” to something a few months before, likely they will reassess as the difficulties increase. Therefore, be flexible in how you can be useful to them because it will be an evolving situation. Taking care of aging parents is difficult. It’s a role reversal that requires some getting used to. So, don’t expect to be perfect at it – it’s a learning curve for all involved.