Caring for elderly parents may seem like a daunting task.
It’s not easy to realize that our parents are aging fast. They’re not as strong as they were. And they’re not as patient as they used to be.
Since we’re planning for the new year, it’s also a great time to check on our aging parents.
So today, we’re talking about what steps you need to prepare for caring for elderly parents.
Most of us are already planning our goals and aspirations for the upcoming year.
Some have career goals, others have family goals.
While we’re at it, why not check on our elders and see if they need help?
If you’re in your mid-30’s or 40’s, you’re probably at the age when your parents are starting to grow older.
You may not even notice it, especially when they are still active and strong.
Even if they’re still at the peak of their health, it doesn’t hurt to check on how they’re doing. And it’s also never too late to prepare for later days while they’re still strong.
Here are the warning signs you need to check to know if your aging parents need your help.
The first thing that usually comes up when we think about negligence is hygiene.
Truth is, negligence can manifest into different things.
Are your parents paying the bills late or not at all? Does it seem like they're not keeping the house clean anymore?
Are they misplacing or losing wallets, keys, or other important items?
It’s pretty common for us to lose track of these things at times. But if it happens regularly, then it might be something you need to take a look at.
These little things that they neglect may not be too obvious especially if you don’t live together with them.
So look for the little clues they might leave behind.
Check for overdue bills they might be missing. See if they have little wounds or sores anywhere in their body.
Talk to their friends or people they might be spending time with. Ask them if they see any changes in your parents.
Are the kitchen and bathroom clean? Can they still keep house themselves?
If the answer is yes, then you’re all good. Just make sure you’re checking up on them every so often.
Here are some signs to look out for to know if your parents are self-neglecting.
It can be difficult to see if your aging parents are suffering from a declining mental state.
But one of the easiest ways to check is to have conversations with them. If they can still carry a conversation without being confused, then they’re doing well.
Signs of dementia can show as early as 40 years old, so it makes sense for you to be concerned.
According to CDC, elders who live alone have a higher rate of experiencing cognitive decline.
The lack of mental stimulation and conversations can increase their vulnerability to self-neglect.
They also have higher risks of fall-related incidents.
That’s why caring for elderly parents also involves increasing their social activities.
Encourage them to meet with their friends or go golfing now and then.
Book sleepovers with the kids and babysitting sessions. You get the rest you need and they also get to spend time with their grandkids.
It’s a win-win.
Your parents may still be feeling strong and healthy at this point. But it also pays to know what their health status is.
Make sure you’re regularly in touch with their doctors and caregivers.
It also helps to observe for any wounds or signs of falls they may have encountered.
It might be difficult for our aging parents to admit they need help. So if you see them only a few times in a year, it’s best to get information from people they spend more time with.
Now would be the best time to check for family health history if you haven’t yet.
Check for any major hereditary illnesses like cancer, dementia, and diabetes.
It’s also time to check for potential visual or hearing problems.
Doing so will be beneficial for you and your kids too. This way you’ll be able to see what kind of lifestyle and environmental changes you need to delay or avoid these diseases altogether.
The aging process can be unpleasant and difficult to process for our parents.
Their bodies may not be able to respond as quickly as before. And their minds may not be as sharp as they used to be.
All these things may lead them to be resentful, distressed, and frustrated. Their temper may sometimes flare up around family members or friends.
We should always be cautious of occurrences like these.
So how do you know if the changes in your parents’ behaviors are a cause of alarm?
There are certain behaviors that you need to watch out for.
For example, elders who have pre-existing mental health conditions may show severe symptoms that relate to their illnesses.
Those diagnosed with OCD can manifest in little things like saving tissue paper or picking on their skin.
Hoarding, neglecting self-care, and lethargy can be signs of depression.
Do they have unexplained anger outbursts? Or do they have abusive behaviors towards others?
Are they swearing excessively or showing inappropriate behaviors? It might be signs of more serious neurocognitive disorders.
In any case, it’s best to take note of these behaviors and ask for professional opinions before jumping to conclusions.
Some people are naturally introverted. They enjoy small crowds as larger ones tend to burn them out.
But for the elderly, social anxiety and isolation can be a cause for concern.
What is normal and what are signs that you should be alarmed about?
Social anxiety disorders may not be as easy to detect. But some of its symptoms can manifest themselves through physical pain.
Those who suffer from it can experience stomach pains, vomiting, and nausea. It can also show in excessive sweating, insomnia, and muscle tensions.
Paranoia is also common so take note of the things they say and feel.
Most would have dreadful feelings of losing control and death. Some would even say people are plotting against them.
If this is happening to your parents, it’s best to ask for help from a medical professional.
Read more about how to address irrational parents here.
Caregiving is not easy.
For most, adult children frequently provide care for their aging parents out of a sense of obligation or even guilt.
Sure it also has its rewards. Taking care of a parent is a good way to give back.
Unfortunately, not everyone has great relationships with their parents.
Some deal with broken relationships or years of abuse. Others have to deal with ghosts their parents need to deal with.
This makes providing care for parents much more difficult.
The question is, how do you prepare for caregiving when your aging parents need it the most?
The best way to go is to plan. This would mean having difficult conversations with your parents and other family members that are involved.
The whole family should be on the same page as they move forward.
This conversation aims to talk about how your parent will need and want to be cared for as they get older.
Having an open discussion with their best interests in mind doesn't have to be a fight, but it must be truthful.
If they could no longer live alone in their home, where would they like to live? How will they pay for their care? Are they comfortable with where they are now?
These are all critical aspects you need to know about caring for elderly parents at home.
Our elderly parents need our full support and understanding.
It takes a lot of thought and planning to ensure that aging in place is the right choice.
When it's done right, it might be one of the most effective ways to improve your loved ones ability to grow old in peace and comfort.
At any age, it's hard to deal with change. How we help our parents and how they deal with these changes is the cornerstone to aging well.
They may have a better attitude about life if you help them focus on the positive aspects and not on the negative parts of the situation.
It also helps to check on the actual experiences of caregivers with their aging parents.
Some online groups and forums talk about their experiences.
These groups act as a safe space where they can get tips on how to handle situations. The communities also offer comfort, especially for those who are experiencing the end-of-life phase.
Learn more about what you need to know about aging in place here.
Caring for elderly parents is a full-time job that usually isn’t as rewarding.
Here’s a comforting thought: it’s perfectly fine to admit that you can’t be a primary caregiver to your aging parents.
And it’s good to know that you have other options besides becoming the primary caregiver.
You don’t need to feel guilty or embarrassed. Instead, think of it as making the best decision that will benefit all, including yourself, your family, and your aging parents.
It's critical to be honest with your parent and yourself if you know some tasks are above your capabilities.
Be honest about how much care you can give without risking your health, relationships, or other obligations.
If you take on too much, you risk burning out and losing your ability to care for others.
As I’ve said, the key is to come prepared.
Read some best books about caregiving to help with your expectations. It will also give you an idea of what your parents may need and what you need to look for in a caregiver.
Check out some practical tips on caring for elderly parents here.
Other simple ways like asking for your siblings or close relatives to share the load may help you too.
They can help you do light household chores like sweeping or even take turns in caring for mom and dad.
You can also consider hiring in-home caregivers so you can have time for yourself.
Find the aid you can afford if you know you won't be able to do it all but want to provide your parent the best care possible.
It may take some time and effort to find the best services at first, but it's an investment that will pay off in the long run.
You can also hire professionals for specific tasks like cleaning services, food packs, and part-time nurses.
Check out the seven places to look for and hire caregivers for your aging parents here.
Caring for elderly parents may not be easy. But it's part of being family.
It's good to know that you have options to choose from.
What matters is that you recognize the signs that your parents need help even if they don't speak of it.
Knowing this will help the family plan accordingly and understand what future steps or plans to take.
That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!