One of the most challenging things we go through is taking care of our parents as they age. Elder care is an emotionally complex and physically exhausting job. It’s also something many children of aging parents will have to take on themselves.
If your parents are beginning to show their age, you need to learn more about caring for the elderly.
Keep reading to find our best pieces of elderly advice to make repaying your parents for all they’ve done a little easier.
Get Their Insurance in Line
One of the most essential tasks when caring for your elderly parents is to get their insurance in line. While this can be completely overwhelming at first, it doesn’t have to be.
Research both Medicare and Medicaid to see what is covered under each plan. You will need to help your parents choose a supplemental policy to help fill in any gaps in their insurance.
Medigap, for example, is extra insurance that’s sold from private companies. Your parents will be able to use it to pay some of their health care costs that aren’t covered by Original Medicare. MedicareWire.com explains the difference between Medigap plans, so if your head is spinning, take a look at their site.
Line Up Healthy Meals
Proper nutrition is vital for seniors as the risk of disease begins to increase. If your parents are already dealing with health problems, they can manage some of them by eating right.
They should eat various foods to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients their bodies need. Meals should consist of lean proteins, healthy whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Cooking may be a difficult task for them as they begin to age, however. You may need to step in to help them with meal preparation and cooking. If this is too much for you to have on your plate, a meal delivery service might be worth considering. These companies will cook premade meals and deliver them to your parents’ home.
Don’t Forget About Yourself
Taking care of elderly parents is not a simple task. You cannot fill from an empty cup, so your self-care should be an absolute priority. Be sure you’re carving out time for yourself every single day to keep yourself healthy and happy.
Start your day a few minutes early so you can enjoy a hot cup of coffee in silence. Wind down at night with a bubble bath and a good book.
Take care of your body by eating healthy foods and exercising.
Don’t let yourself become a caregiver, and only that. It can be hard to maintain a sense of identity when you play such a prominent role with so many responsibilities.
Before you take on the responsibility of caring for your aging parents, be sure you’ve thought about your own life situation and abilities.
Are you physically well enough to care for your parents? Do you have a place in your home they will be able to stay? Or, if they’re not going to be living with you, are you close enough to visit them as needed?
What are the other priorities in your life? Do you have children to take care of or a demanding career? These are all things you need to consider before committing to caring for aging parents on your own.
You have your own life to live, so don’t feel guilty if you need to ask for help with their care. You can still help them arrange for the care they’ll need and be a supportive and loving child. You do not need to drop everything for them.
Ask for Help When Necessary
Parent caring is a significant responsibility. You may not be able to shoulder the task all on your own. That’s why it’s so essential to enlist help early on.
If you can get the entire immediate family on board, the risk of caregiver burnout will be much less. Ask your sister to take your Mother to the grocery store once per week. Get your brother to help your Dad with errands.
If you don’t have a big family, consider hiring a respite care provider for in-home care. A home care agency can help you connect with a worker that can provide care when you’re away or too busy. They can help your parents with meal preparation, laundry, or take them to their appointments around town.
Research local elderly assistance companies to see what’s available in your region.
Ensure the Home is Safe
Whether your parents will be staying with you or in their own homes, their space needs to be safe. Remember baby-proofing your home when your children started walking? You’ll need to elder-proof the house in much the same way to keep your parents safe.
More than 25% of older people fall every year, so the sooner you take steps to reduce their risk, the better. Even low-level falls can cause significant damage in elderly folks.
Be prepared to make structural modifications to the home. Ramps and stairlifts may be necessary if you’re dealing with multiple levels.
You may need to install a raised toilet seat and grab bars in the bathroom and shower. Your parents might benefit from a special shower chair, too, so they can sit while they bathe.
They may need power recliners in the living room to help them get out of their seats or walkers to get around the home. If their bed is too high or too low, it may need replacing.
You should pay close attention to the floor and remove all clutter or potential tripping hazards. Bedspreads or drapes that reach the floor can cause falls. Cords are another common thing that seniors can trip over.
Keep in Touch
Loneliness is a severe threat to elderly folks, especially those who are living alone or widowed. Studies show that social isolation can be as unhealthy as smoking and alcohol.
If you’re not living with your parents, be sure to keep in touch with them. Ensure their phone is easy to access and simple to use. You may want to set them up with a basic cell phone with pre-programmed phone numbers to ensure accessibility.
You might want to consider a medical alert device they can keep on their person as well. If they were to have a fall out of reach of their phone, they could use that to call for help.
Allow Them to Keep Their Dignity
It’s challenging to grow older and accept that you’re not able to do things that once came easily to you. Allow your parents to continue performing their Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) as long as they can. ADLs include tasks like:
- using the toilet
Assist them as needed with these tasks, but don’t assume they always need your help. If they’re experiencing mobility impairments or have health issues that make doing their ADLs alone, you can step in or find help to do so.
Get the Ball Rolling on Legal Documents
There are several legal documents that every older adult should have in place. The chances are that your parents already have some or all of these documents set up, but if not, you’ll need to help them do so.
A Medical Directive is a document that explains the level of care your parent will want to receive if they’re very ill or become incapacitated. It is sometimes called an Advanced Directive and will ensure the wishes of your parents are filled out at the end of their life.
You should talk to them about Do Not Intubate and Do Not Resuscitate orders, too. These are most often put into place if your parents are ill and in the hospital. Intubating and resuscitating are life-saving procedures that can be very hard on frail senior bodies.
They will need to choose a Power of Attorney for their healthcare. The person they appoint will be the one making healthcare decisions in the event they cannot make decisions on their own. They should also designate a power of attorney to oversee their financial affairs as well.
A will is a legal document that every adult should have. Wills provide a way for people to set forth their wishes regarding their property and assets if they die.
Put Our Elderly Advice Into Action
It’s tough to watch your parents age, and it isn’t easy to become their caregiver as they do so. We hope our elderly advice helps you on this new path you’re about to embark upon. Remember to take time for yourself and ask for help when you need it.
Keep reading our blog to find more practical tips and life advice to help you navigate hard times.