No one teaches you how to care for an aging parent.
Most of us are used to our parents taking care of us, not the other way around.
And it can be a challenge especially when our parents fall ill so suddenly.
So today, I’m sharing tips on how to care for an aging parent and how to make it easier for you.
The pandemic has changed the landscape of aging parent care. And more families are now considering aging in place.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, nursing homes suffered a great deal. Care facilities throughout the world are reporting massive outbreaks.
The elderly population is at high risk. In 2020, at least 7,000 nursing home residents in the US died during the outbreak. The frequent interaction between caregivers and residents increased their exposure.
Aging in place benefits seniors and their families.
Making them stay at home can keep them safe from the virus. But, it poses a new set of challenges.
One major challenge is battling the psychological effects of limited human interaction.
The elderly deeply value the sense of belonging that a community provides. The laws on physical distancing made it difficult for them to connect with other people.
It has also decreased their level of physical activity because of limited social interaction. This makes them prone to physical and psychological issues.
The lockdowns also made it difficult for family members to check in on each other.
More than ever, our families need our support. The needs of the elderly don't change.
Our aging parents need safe access to food, basic supplies, and medications even in times of quarantine.
If there’s nobody who can run errands for them, they won’t have access to their basic needs.
That’s why many families chose to modify their living arrangements.
Those who are far from their parents used technology to check in with them.
VoIP software like Zoom and Skype has been widely used to connect with relatives.
If there’s no one to run errands for them, there are companies that deliver necessities.
Now, more families are choosing to let their parents age in place.
Adult children are also stepping up. They want to provide support and assistance. Some even choose to live back with their parents to ensure they're safe and well taken care of.
According to a survey from AARP, 23% of those caring for aging parents are millennials.
Let's talk about how millennials can become effective caregivers to their aging parents.
More millennials are now choosing to support their aging parents. One survey states that 40% of millennials took over the role of caregivers during the health crisis.
One's culture and religion can have a huge impact on this.
Around the world, multi-generational households and caring for elderly parents at home is the norm.
In the US, single generational living is much more common, but that is beginning to change.
As a society, most people believe that children should always care for their elderly parents.
In past generations, family caregivers fall in their 40s or 50s. But according to recent studies, adults aged 18 and 34 are taking on this duty.
More millennials are now choosing to care for their elderly at home instead of sending them to an elderly facility.
The good thing is, technology is making it easier to manage elderly care and work opportunities.
Around 37% of millennials have spent more than $10,000 of their own money to pay for healthcare costs.
Millennials are also now preparing for their parents’ retirement. Saving up for parental caregiving is fast becoming a trend.
Unfortunately, 50% of millennials feel that they need to delay their retirement to support their parents.
Finding a traditional job that can accommodate caregiver duties is scarce.
And current employment laws are not as accommodating to emergencies related to parental care.
Luckily, remote work and work-from-home job setups are now available. These help more millennials manage both their lifestyle and their aging parents as well.
Aging in place provides certain benefits for millennials as well as challenges.
For one, it’s comforting to know that you’re providing personalized care for your aging parents.
Finding quality caregivers can be difficult and expensive. A nursing home or a retirement community can also cause anxiety in your parents as well.
You as the main caregiver provides them with a level of comfort and security.
Familiar surroundings also make it easier for seniors as well.
Seniors with dementia adapt better to predictable and common surroundings. It also gives them a sense of control and keeps them calm.
Children growing with their grandparents around also has tons of benefits.
Studies show that children with good relationships with grandparents show less anxiety. They also have fewer emotional and behavioral problems.
They also cope better with trauma and other traumatic life events.
But there are also challenges with living and taking care of aging parents.
Caring for aging parents can become a source of argument between spouses. It can also contribute to stress and friction.
Some might feel that they’re sacrificing more instead of rewarding.
Ideally, we want a loving and caring relationship with your parents. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case.
A huge part of the conflicts starts with generational differences.
Older generations find it difficult to understand millennials’ lifestyle choices. And it can cause misunderstandings, especially if they’re living together.
Despite that, some millennials still get a fulfilling experience taking care of their aging parents.
All you need is to be equipped with the right information.
As your parents grow old and frail, you may need to make complex decisions for them.
To avoid misunderstandings, make these decisions as a family.
Of course, you must choose the best option for them. But remember to always ask them what they think. Make sure you’re always on the same page to avoid conflicts.
Consider their feelings on the subject. Make the conversation as productive and positive as possible.
Here are a few tips to consider.
The goal of aging in place is to maintain freedom for the elderly.
We want our parents to still be able to do things they want to do as long as they can do it.
As a caregiver, you would want to assess your parent’s current situation. The challenge is finding a way for them to be honest with what they need.
Some seniors may have a hard time admitting they need help. Some are in denial of their age and their abilities.
Whether you choose to live with the elderly temporarily or in long term, it’s important to check their routines.
Try to find out the activities they can still do safely. Check if their homes fit the safety requirements for the elderly.
See if they need help with finances and make sure their bills are paid on time.
Doing this assessment can help you decide the kind of care they need and if you can provide it for them.
It will also help you decide if you need to hire part-time or full-time caregivers.
Check out this in-depth guide for caregivers to help you.
Becoming a caregiver can be draining physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially.
So while you’re assessing your parents’ needs, it’s also important to check on your capabilities as well.
Consider your personal and long-term goals.
It also helps to identify the potential challenges you might encounter while fulfilling this duty.
Read more about other people’s experiences. It will prepare you and give you a head’s up about what to expect.
It’s also important to assess your financial situation.
Finances are the biggest source of stress for most. Being transparent with your current financial situation can help you find ways to alleviate the financial burdens.
Here are some organizations you can reach out to for financial assistance.
Third, you need to know the options available to you to help ease the stress.
What assistance is available to lighten your caregiver duties?
This way, you won’t feel stuck. You know that there’s always help available to you when you need breaks.
As a caregiver, you must remember to prioritize your well-being too. You’ll do a better job at aging parent care if you keep yourself in the right physical and mental state.
Caring for aging parents might seem like a never-ending task. At some point, you’re really going to need help.
And the best way to deal is to outsource or automate some tasks.
Once you find the right person or organization, it’s going to change how you provide care for your aging parents.
It will also reduce anxiety and will enable you to take regular breaks.
There are different types of home health care services that you can take advantage of.
The key is to set good standards to find the right help.
You can also opt to share the load with family members as well.
Ask siblings or close relatives to take turns caring for aging parents. They can also do some errands, cook meals or do light housekeeping.
Consider hiring in-home caregivers to get regular breaks. You can also sign up for a respite care service if that’s available in your area.
Finding help that meets your expectations can take time and effort. But it will all be worth it in the end.
Here are some guidelines to help you find the perfect help.
Knowing how to care for an aging parent involves understanding and preparation.
It can be challenging at first.
The key to making it easier is knowing what to prepare for.
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That's all for today.
Take care, keep mom safe and have a great day!