How to Care for an Elderly Parent
If you’ve decided to keep your aging parent at home, you know the responsibility it entails. Whether they’re living in your house or still at their own, keeping all of their needs met can be difficult and demanding. Read through these tips to reduce your caregiving load.
Talk to your siblings
If you have siblings, be sure to have a conversation with them about your parent’s healthcare. While it’s important that everyone works together to support each other, the primary caretaking will likely fall on one person. Deciding who will bear the responsibility can be complicated. In the past, a gender bias stipulated that women would most regularly help aging parents. However, with women in the workforce now, this concept is less universal. The caregiver might also be the executor of the will, or it could be the oldest sibling. Don’t arbitrarily select a caretaker based on age and gender, but choose who will be the overall best fit. Selective matching considers personalities, finances, and geography – simply who lives the closest – in determining caretakers among siblings. Regardless of whoever is selected as the primary caretaker, everyone in the family should be on board with your parent’s healthcare path.
Accept that things have changed
After you’ve been nominated to be your parent’s caretaker, dealing with the situation can be a challenge. The first step to take towards parental caregiving is to accept that the roles have reversed. Growing up, it was probably difficult to imagine a time when your parents relied on you and not vice versa. Don’t let this flip your world upside down. Chances are your parent feels pretty distraught over the need to rely on you, and dwelling on it won’t help anything for anyone. Expect their anger or frustration, and do your best to be patient and understanding.
Understand the finances
Talk to an advisor about the state of your parent’s finances. You’ll need a clear picture of their bank account in order to prepare for upcoming medical expenses. Reduce your own financial burden and caregiving costs by exploring ways to save money on bills and reduce the cost of prescription drugs. You might be able to use government programs that help offset caregiving costs. Also, when you talk to a financial planner, you should see if you qualify for tax relief. If you are paying for more than half of their well-being, such as rent or food, you may be able to claim them as a dependent on your tax return.
Manage their prescriptions
On average, people over 65 take 14-18 prescriptions a year. Multiple medications can be a challenge for seniors to manage on their own, so be sure to monitor their prescriptions to avoid potentially dangerous health and safety risks. Consider purchasing a pill organizer for good medication management. Steadily rising drug costs can create financial pressure, so check if you can save money by switching to generic solutions.
Improve their quality of life
Can you afford home modifications? If so, install grab bars for shower safety and fall prevention. If your elderly parent is in a wheelchair, installing a ramp will help improve their mobility and autonomy. Make changes where possible to increase their independence and improve their quality of life. Medical alert systems are great additions to give you peace of mind during times you can’t be there.
Support comes in many shapes and sizes. Consider reaching out for indirect support from your siblings, whether it’s by pitching in with paperwork, financial management, or in-person assistance. You can also turn to your community for help through county-wide respite-care programs, caregiver support programs, or estate-planning consultations. Try to automate as many errands as possible to help you save time and energy, and consider researching an adult day program – it’ll give you some rest and help them socialize.
At a certain point, you might want to consider hiring a caregiver or placing your parent in a home for seniors. Until then, follow this guide for an easier experience to make the most of your time together.