Day by day, we tend to grow older and more vulnerable in many aspects, and so as our parents. The unstoppable marching of time slowly guiding us towards the gray is inevitable.
As our parents are aging, we need to help them to stay safe and healthy but you might be uncertain about how to handle the situation. It might be difficult to understand their needs, understand the options, and make choices.
Instead, focusing on something specific would help you have more control over the situation. These are the things that you can put your attention on to help them live their lives healthier and happier.
Determine your parent’s needs
It can be overwhelming caring for an aged parent because you are not entirely sure what exactly needs to be taken care of.
One way you can tackle this issue is by taking a step back to understand how much help your parent needs with their daily life. There are several keys you can focus on such as:
- Family support
- Medical needs
- Safety at home
- Cognitive health
- Personal hygiene
- Social interaction
- Meal preparation
Determine how much help are they receiving in each category and how much support do they really need to keep themselves healthy and safe? You can do this by listing it down so you may keep tabs on their needs and determine what help is required.
For example, your father has heart disease and managing diabetes at the same time, is somewhat isolated in a rural area with no family members living nearby, and is not able to provide or prepare meals for himself.
To be added, you live across the state which means he will be needing help with his medication management, meals, and transportation for health appointments.
To provide the help your father needs, you might need to hire a companion who can drive for health appointments, run daily errands, prepare grocery or delivery meals, and hire an in-home caregiver to prepare meals and make sure he takes his dose of medicines every day.
Take consideration of your needs and abilities
Everybody is at a different point in their lives.
It’s best to take into consideration your personal situation and capabilities before assuming that you can meet all of your parent’s needs on your own.
- Is your well-being capable of physically caring for a person?
- Do you live nearby to visit often as needed?
- Would you want to have them live with you, in your home or theirs?
- Is your relationship able to spend a lot of time together without causing negative impacts towards their side?
- Is your personality able to provide the kind of caring support they need?
- Are you willing to learn how to provide the care?
We want our parents to be safe and healthy and it is not considered selfish or heartless if you are not the best fit to personally provide them the care. In fact, you are still being a supportive and caring child by looking out for their health and safety and arranging the help they need.
It is best for you to make an assessment truthfully at the early stage of the process so you won’t end up in a situation that won’t work out. If you take on more than you are capable of and burn yourself out physically or mentally, you won’t have the ability to help your parents or yourself.
Include your parents in the process
There is nobody, especially someone who is already worried about losing their independence, wants to lose control of their life. That is why it is important to involve your parents as inclusive as possible when you are doing the groundwork for their care.
This will help them see you more of a team member who’s assisting them rather than someone who’s rushing in to make changes in their lives. They might be conservative at first, so it may take multiple attempts on talking them into it.
Try not to force changes immediately as long as their safety is not in jeopardy. You may want to begin with less obtrusive approaches and elevate the support as you go.
If it is an emergency matter, get them used to accepting help by exacting on one or two needs that are critical. Follow up by gradually adding on the needs until they are getting all the help they really need.
Acknowledge the financial situation
You must understand that caring for an older adult will cost you financially no matter what. So, it is good to have a plan to strategize and estimate the future costs so you will be more prepared.
Consider the medical care that they are likely to need, the cost of the potential living situation like comparing assisted living and having them move in with you, and the cost of daily expenses such as food, caregiving supplies, home safety modifications, and more.
Once you have the plan of the financial position for their care, you will learn if you are able to afford the care they need or you will be needing financial support.
Government programs, health care and welfare support and other support programs are available to help pay for long term care. You may need to consult a financial planner to assist you to qualify for these programs. But it is best to plan ahead yourself so you won’t get stuck in a financial crunch.
Take care of home safety basics
When you are taking care of an elderly at home, safety hazards in the house will add up over time, making it easier for older adults to fall, trip and injure themselves.
Preventing falls by adding several fixes to your home will go a long way in keeping your parents independent for as long as possible. These simple fixes include:
- Ensure all floors and walkways are clear of clutter, rugs, cords, and other things that could lead to possible falls and injuries.
- Adding grab bars in the bathroom and stair railings
- Ensure that all rooms are bright by installing lights and switches that are easily reachable
- Minimizing the need to use step-stools or bend down low
Make sure communication is simple and accessible
Another matter that you should take note of is keeping your parents safe by letting them have the ability to call for assistance easily and keep in touch with family and friends.
Besides stopping the safety hazard, isolation and loneliness can have a serious deteriorating effect on overall health. To prevent this, make sure their phone is elderly-friendly or easy to use and accessible.
For some, keeping a simple mobile phone with pre-programmed numbers or speed dials in their pocket is reassuring and easier to access or if your parents are open to the idea of wearing a medical alert device, you may want to consider it.
Explore available aging care options
Caring for your parents can be an unbearable responsibility even after you have broken down the suggested guides and steps. Fortunately, there are several aging care options and helpful resources you can depend on such as:
In-home caregiving assistance
You can hire a private or through an agency a caregiver or companion to take care of seniors in their home.
Companion? Get a Temanion!
You can also hire a Temanion for your parents at home with Teman Malaysia as we provide companion services to accompany you to health appointments, dialysis treatments, and even accompany them at home.
Click here to learn more about what we do and the services we provide!
Geriatric care managers
Geriatric care managers act as consultants to guide you or they can assist you in managing all aspects of caring for your parents. Their experience can help you save time, money, and headaches down the road.
Assisted living communities
If your parents are not able to live independently or need 24-hour care, assisted living communities and other senior housing may be the right option.
Geriatric doctors have a specialty in caring for seniors and possess more experience in treating people with multiple chronic health conditions, dementia, and other conditions that mainly affect the elderly.
Local Agencies on Aging
Local agencies that serve local seniors, whether it’s a government or non-government agencies, is a great starting point as they will assist in connecting you with helpful local resources and government programs.