Caregiving for an Aging Parent
You have probably heard the saying, “once an adult and twice a child.” This is all too true for those blessed to live long enough. And if that someone is your parent, it is essential to discuss your parent's aging expectations and set goals together even though the initial discussions may be uncomfortable. Often, an exploration into a parent’s future thoughts about health, finances, and residential plans can make the difference between reacting to a crisis or following an established plan that can bring both the parent and their children peace of mind. The sooner an identified caregiver begins a dialogue, the better the outcome for all involved.
It is common for an older parent to try and shield loved ones from some of their harsh realities - whether financial or health-related - because they are reluctant to accept help, embarrassed by their finances and do not want to be a burden, or are hiding some critical health information. Even in the best of health circumstances an older parent’s ability to remain independent and manage their life can be challenging. Family caregivers are essential to the experience of aging in America and while individual care needs vary, there are some general topics to address when helping an aging parent.
Safety issues are paramount. If there are assets and retirement plans in place, do not allow an aging parent to become financially vulnerable. In the most recent report released by the Department of Justice (DOJ), more than 2 million elderly Americans were defrauded out of more than $750,000,000 in one year. Get educated and learn systems that can protect parental assets. Physical safety must also be addressed to prevent accidental falls in the home. Technology can be adapted into the home to have environment lighting controls and other comforts that can keep a parent safer. Driving is also a topic that needs to be discussed. At what point is it best to remove a parent from behind the wheel to avoid unintended accidents that can be costly both financially and health-wise. Of course, “taking” a parent’s driver’s license can result in its own challenges, especially if the parent is still vibrant and interested in being out and about, e.g., how does that parent get around, who is going to take them, what is the cost, it is safe, etc.
Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) are the basic foundation of day to day functioning. IADLs