Your parents may need help caring for themselves as they age, especially if they have chronic health conditions or disabilities. It’s a huge responsibility that can be overwhelming for everyone involved. If you are caring for an aging parent, here are some tips to help you make the toughest care decisions:
Be A Good Listener
Your parents may be reluctant to talk about the most critical topics, so it’s up to you to make sure they feel comfortable discussing their wishes and care preferences. Ask open-ended questions encouraging them to share their feelings and thoughts on this topic. For example: “What do you think is important for me as your daughter/son? How can I help?”
Know Your Parents’ Values
When helping your parents decide about their care, you need to know what matters most to them. For example, if your father is an avid golfer and values his golfing time more than anything else, it may not be wise for him to move into a nursing home where he would have little access to the golf course.
If there’s something that matters deeply to your parents-whether, it’s seeing their grandchildren every weekend or attending church every Sunday-you should take this into account when making decisions about where they should live or how much help they need with daily tasks such as cooking or cleaning.
Make Sure You Have The Right Resources At Hand
A good place to start is with your parent’s doctor and social worker, who can help assess their medical needs and recommend services to help meet them.
You’ll also want to take advantage of local programs or support groups for golden-age adults in your area. These may include:
- Meals-on-Wheels (MOW) programs, which deliver hot meals directly to your door;
- Transportation services that help get older adults out of the house by providing rides to doctors’ appointments or grocery stores;
- Home health agencies that provide nursing care at home when it’s needed most; and
- Adult day care centers where adults can go daily while caregivers care for children at home.
Give Them Plenty Of Time
You don’t want to spring it on them during dinner and expect them to have a thoughtful answer immediately. Instead, explain that you’re thinking about their future and want their input on what might make sense for them now or down the road. You can even ask if they have any questions or concerns, they’d like addressed before you talk more deeply about specific scenarios.
If your parent has been through this process before (with other children), listen carefully for any advice they may have on how things went with those children-and whether any issues could’ve been improved upon during those discussions.
Be Aware Of Your Limitations As A Helper
As you can imagine, this is a sensitive subject for many families. Recognizing that you don’t have all the answers regarding caring for an aging parent is essential. If you do not feel comfortable making decisions about your parent’s care and finances, ask someone else (a trusted family member or friend) for help instead of trying to handle everything yourself.
Remember that even though it can be difficult at times, being there for them is one of the most important things in life. Never forget: they raised you and cared for you when no one else would!