Many middle-aged people have elderly parents that are starting to ‘feel their age.’ While it is the hope and prayer of all adults that their parents age in good health and happiness, statistics show us that life doesn’t always lead us along that path. We asked some of the professionals in the senior care industry about some of the most common questions they are asked from adults regarding the care and health of their aging loved ones.
1. How do I know when my parents can’t or shouldn’t live on their own anymore?
Here are some signs to look out for as you observe your aging loved one: They are missing doses of their medication or not taking it at all, you find that they are leaving the stove on too long, not shutting it off and burning food, not bathing, not changing or washing their clothing or bed linens, not eating and drinking water, or perhaps eating expired foods. One very important situation to check is their driving ability. An aging adult who is not able to drive but still thinks that they can is a huge risk to themselves and to others. A few more important things to check are if they are paying their bills on time, locking up their home at night, or if they are afraid to look in the mirror or see their reflection in the window. Some of these things may seem obvious, but others can come on gradually and may take longer to notice.
2. How do I start the conversation about my parents no longer being able to live independently?
Everyone is different and every senior will react to this reality differently. Some have prepared in advance and made provisions and some have not. If a loved one has dementia and needs to be placed in Memory Care you cannot reason with them. The best option would be to start the conversation by way of asking their advice or opinion, such as, “Mom, Gabe and I got to talking the other night about our wishes should something happen to us health wise, and what type of care we would want and so forth. Have you and Dad ever talked about it? Do you think you’d want to stay in the house or go somewhere with less upkeep?” Something along these lines can get a conversation started about their plans (or lack thereof), and bring a sobering reality to the fact that they may not be able to keep up with a full-sized home anymore. Then you can talk about in home care, moving to a place that provides care, or getting the family together to reach a solution.
3. What should I do about my parent’s finances?
Ask your parents early on about who has Power of Attorney and the Advanced Medical Directive. Tell them that you are getting your affairs in order and that you were just wondering where they kept all of their information, as that will certainly open up the conversation. Begin the conversation about your plans and ask them theirs. Discuss options! Remember to ask where their important papers are like their marriage license, separation papers from the military, insurance papers, a living trust, etc. The take away from this is to take care of it now before it gets to the point where your family is unable to communicate their needs or wants.
These topics are hard to bring up with our aging family members, but it’s harder not to have the conversations and be left guessing about what to do or hoping to make ends meet. The best possible situation is stay one step ahead. If you find yourself needing assistance or advice, check out the following helpful and informative articles:
How to Help When It’s Unwanted
Choosing a Caregiving Agency
3 Signs It’s Time to Hire a Caregiver
These statements have not been evaluated by a medical doctor and are the advice and opinion of the company. If you have questions regarding your health, please contact your doctor.