Life comes full circle when adult children find themselves taking care of their parents. With the average life expectancy increasing, a growing number of us are finding ourselves in this role reversal. And many of us aren’t sure how to go about it. So here are 5 ways to help.
A common challenge for parents and adult children alike is accepting the situation. It’s difficult for many
parents to admit they’re growing old and that they need help.
Rejecting help prevents people from receiving the aid that may allow them to age in peace. Similarly, refusing to admit a parent needs help may result in them making mistakes that could make things worse. Accept your own emotions regarding the situation.
If you deny your own frustration, anger or grief, you may be overwhelmed by them at a critical moment. And denying your feelings could cause them to seep out in other, less healthy ways. This is why we consider acceptance to be the first step in taking care of your ageing parents.
Assess the Current Situation
Age doesn’t hit us all the same way at the same pace. You need to honestly assess the situation your parents are in. Sometimes the person is physically fit, but their judgement is impaired.
You need to have a medical professional assess their mental state so that you can get legal matters in order before it’s too late. If their physical condition is deteriorating, have honest conversations with them and their doctor.
What can do they for themselves? What do they need help with? How quickly will they lose the ability to take care of their homes, their finances and themselves?
Understand What Resources You Have at Your Disposal
This is the time to determine what resources you have at your disposal relative to what you need. How much time can you allocate to supporting your parents? If it’s not as much as they require, you’ll need help.
How much do they have saved relative to expected medical bills? This is the time to compare health insurance plans and secure a policy that will reduce upcoming medical costs.
Reach Out for Help
Once you admit there’s a problem and recognise its scope, you can start to reach out to others for help.
For example, talk to your parents about how to pay for their medical bills and upkeep. Ask family members for assistance in supervising parents and taking care of them instead of taking it all upon yourself.
Hire others to do household chores, transportation or supervision as is necessary. Find someone you can talk to about your feelings so that you don’t take it out on your parents.
Plan for the Long Term
Now is the time to start planning for the long-term. For example, retrofit the home now so that someone starting to lose their balance can safely go upstairs or no longer needs to in the future.
Redesign the bathroom so that they don’t have to step into a tub. Plan to reassess your family member’s physical and mental state, so that you can make changes as necessary. What will your family do if a family member needs to be institutionalized?
At what point would you agree to do that? How will you pay for it? Agree now on when to sell the family home to pay for care and line up the legal forms necessary to do so. Face the eventuality of their death, and where appropriate, discuss matters like a do not resuscitate order and their will.
Taking care of one’s parents is challenging but know that you don’t have to do it alone. The process is easier when you face it head-on and plan appropriately.