Caring for Your Aging Loved Ones
How should I care for my aged loved one?
Talking with our aging loved ones about their changing needs or living situation is no easy task. Despite the fact that I have spent the majority of my career life helping adult children and their parents communicate on these very topics, it's only made it somewhat easier, and only in some areas. When it was my own family, things got just as sticky as they would for any newbie. It just goes to show that it is a challenging topic to deal with, and within the topic there are many layers. As the adult children we want to help our parents and give them all the support they need. But reality is that we also have busy families, careers, church and community involvement, marriages, and so on. It’s hard to juggle more when most of us are already on overload. So how can we help our beloved parents or grandparents the most?
- Communicate with them and reassure them that they are not in it alone and you will help. Often times they are scared or don’t understand the complexity of the health care system or the many living options available to them. It can be overwhelming.
- Educate yourself on the medical, financial, legal and living solutions for your parents. There are many; home care, assisted living and retirement communities, medical in-home care including nursing and physical therapy and so on.
- Share your concerns about being able to help care for them, as well as your family and yourself! (Caregiver burnout only adds fuel to the fire. Staying healthy is critical for the adult child!)Share that you would like for them to receive care from a professional - they may open up to the idea of having their own Caregiver.
- Encourage your parents to make minor changes - baby steps. Remember, they have been living a certain way for 50, 60, 70 years or more, and have developed both good and some bad habits, just like we have! Go easy on them, but hold firm on important topics when you have to! Their care is a top priority and don't be afraid to share this with them.
- Get support. There are lots of families that go through similar circumstances in your own neighborhood, church, workplace and community. Get connected to your local Area Council on Aging (Area IV for Greater Lafayette, IN). They have some great resources to help you through the process. For those in Greater Lafayette or surrounding areas, attend the new “Boomercation” program a series of educational classes taught by local business owners who work daily in these and related areas. For more information see: boomercation.org
- Practice positive self-talk by reminding yourself regularly that you are new to this ( and no one taught this subject in high school!). Just breathe, stay calm and be proud of yourself that you are willing to help care for the one who cared for you, even when you feel like you don’t know what you are doing. They will be truly thankful to you for doing so, even if they can’t or don’t know how to fully express it.
Your friend in the love and care of seniors,