Aging is a fact of life that affects all families. When we imagine our parents as seniors, we may not fully comprehend the extent to which their aging will affect them or us. If our parents are already seniors while in a good healthy condition and living independently, we may not feel any type of concern yet.
The matter of concern is that the time does come when the effects of aging become more evident, and our parents require long-term care. A decline in their physical and mental vitality may result in visible and drastic changes to their appearance, living standard, and their emotional well-being.
A time comes when we have got to have more awareness of how aging can affect them, and what type of options are available to them as seniors and us as their adult children. We should involve ourselves in the planning regarding our parents.
Our parent’s well-being is our wish as they age and live out the last years of their lives. Caring for the elders has a meaning that the adult children should understand by considering a family member’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
Activities of daily living (ADLs)
These activities of everyday life are the essentials that are necessary to the dignity, physical, and emotional well-being of our parents. The purpose of these activities is to make sure that their daily living requirements are met adequately. A few necessary activities of daily living are:
- Functional mobility
- Personal hygiene
- Toilet hygiene
If the elders also have impaired mobility and health concerns that make it difficult or a bit impossible to take care of these activities of daily living independently, then you have to find the appropriate help. Whether this help is in the form of providing care by you or somebody else that is qualified or investment in proper equipment and accessories to help them continue doing their daily tasks independently, you should be aware enough that there are many choices and options that are available.
Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)
These are other types of daily living activities and are not necessarily fundamental but are related to independent functioning. The instrumental activities of daily life most often refer to the following types of activities with long-term care like:
- Cooking meals
- Running errands
- Managing money and bill payment
- Answering the phone
- Taking prescribed medications
It is necessary for the overall well-being of the elderly parents that their instrumental activities of daily living are taken care of effectively and consistently. If one finds obstacles or any sort of difficulties with doing these tasks alone, they can get help.
Whether it’s yourself, any other siblings, relatives, friends, or even the professional caregivers, it is possible to arrange help for them. There are various other sources of support that include technological devices that are able to provide assistance or even different community services that volunteer to help the seniors.
It is up to us to take an honest look at where an elderly parent requires support. It will be the first step, and then one can make an assessment of all the possible solutions in order to get the help that is required by our elderly parents.
Living arrangement options
It is critical to look at how and where the elderly parents of caring families live to ensure their well-being. Whether the parents are living alone, close to you, with other siblings or any supportive relatives are the things that need our attention.
Do our elders prefer to stay in their homes, or would they be open to moving into another location that is more supportive? These are all critical aspects to consider and discuss with your elderly parents. Following are the most common types of living arrangements that are available to the seniors:
- Aging at home
The choice of most of the seniors can be living independently and aging in their own homes. If the seniors choose this way, then staying independent at home may require various adjustments in the home as well as get the home support from the family caregiver or the professional caregiver.
- Independent communities
The independent living communities are suited best to active and independent seniors who rent or buy a home, apartment, or mobile home in a community with other seniors. The amenities that are provided include gyms, clubhouse, housekeeping, yard maintenance, and security. In addition to that, transportation, laundry service, group meals, and social activities are provided. This has to be kept in mind that they don’t provide medical support.
- Assisted living communities
The assisted living communities are for the seniors who are still independent relatively but might require some assistance and caregiving with their activities like meals, dressing, bathing, help with medication, and their transportation.
They are also assisted with various other facilities like rooms or rental apartments, group meals, and amenities like social activities, exercise, laundry, and housekeeping services.
- Nursing homes
Nursing homes are for the seniors who require a living environment with medical surveillance and caregiving, but they don’t require a hospital in particular. The nursing home offers a nursing staff that is on duty 24 hours a day. A nursing home medical care is provided to the aging parents who either need short or long term care.
- Living with a family member or relative
The seniors who require assistance with their daily activities also need some health care support which is non-skilled, while having the companionship and care that is provided by living with a family member or a relative.
There are financial impacts of making the necessary arrangements and the choices to support the well-being of our elderly parents. Your parents might be eligible to receive additional financial support from the government programs to cover their living expenses.
It is imperative to make sure that they take advantage of any programs that they may be eligible for. They may also require assistance in managing their finances and the retirement funds, and you may also be required to take a more active role in assisting them so that they are secure financially during these years.
If you are a caregiver, you can have the eligibility to get the tax relief by claiming an elderly parent who is a dependent or deducting the medical expenses. You should also help the elderly to make sure that they get help during the tax season from the federal, state, or the independent groups that are there to provide tax-free assistance to the seniors.
Different challenges of caring for elderly parents
When we are children, our parents bring us up and do everything for us. Therefore, it can come as a shock when they start to require care of themselves. We know that it will eventually happen today or tomorrow, but it can be a little difficult to deal with when it does.
Obviously, we don’t want to see our parents, who have been strong authority figures during our childhood, as people who are vulnerable or the ones who require our help. As people age or developmental disabilities, one may have to face up to the situation of needing assistance for taking care of them.
- Be realistic about how you can offer help
As an adult child of an elderly parent who needs care, you have many things to consider, and there are some important decisions that have to be made. You must understand your situation and the circumstances of your parent and look realistically at what you will be able to do so that you can contribute to their care.
- Have a discussion with your parents
Undoubtedly, it is not easy to find the best way to care for elderly parents. It is better to consult with your parents when thinking about their care needs, as the decisions that are to be made will affect your parents more than you.
Your parents are the one that will be receiving the care, not you. Therefore, if they are unwell or confused, they may be able to express their preferences to you that you should take into account besides your own needs and requirements.
- Don’t delay your decision
You may have noticed that your elderly parent has been struggling for some time, or perhaps something sudden has happened like a fall or an accident. This is making you look at the care needs of your parents in more depth now.
There has been quite a decline in their physical, mental, emotional, or cognitive health that has been taking place. Either way, when long term care is needed for your parents, you must have conversations with them, and the decisions must be made.
- Be flexible and approach the topic with sensitivity
You have to keep in mind that it is quite possible that your parent may initially resist your encouragement to get care and support. As they have been independent for their entire adult lives, therefore, they are not keen on any suggestion that they have to depend on somebody else to take care of them.
They might also be afraid that they will be forced to leave their own home and surroundings that they are familiar with. By being flexible and calm, you can be able to make your parents understand your concerns and discuss the solution on a mutual basis.
It is certainly not easy to have these conversations, but it is quite essential to persist. You have to explain to your parents that you don’t think that they are safe on their own and without support at this age. You should also tell them that you are worried that they are struggling to manage things in life.
Persuading the elderly parents to accept help can be difficult, but there are ways that can lead to the conversation so that everyone is open honest in their opinions, hopes, and fears. After this step, it can be easy for you to assess your parent’s needs and then make a plan accordingly.
Getting education and help from supportive resources and groups
Educating yourself means helping your old parents get the best assistance and support that is available. There are various groups and organizations, independent and funded by Government that assist and help the seniors. Here are a few resources that are geared at helping seniors:
- Government benefits
Benefits.gov is the official benefits website of the Government. In this website, you can find out information on various benefits and assistance programs that cover health, disability, income, wealth, education level, whether the individual is a military veteran, and much more.
- Area Agency on Aging
It is a federally mandated agency that is staffed by the professionals who know every senior program and service; this also includes the available funding resources in your area. It is a great starting point to gather information about the programs that our elderly parents are eligible for and can be able to utilize such a program.
Their Counselors are able to assist and even provide the documents that are necessary and the forms to apply for different programs. It is not at all a waste of time to book an appointment and talk to them directly.
- Benefits checkup
Benefitscheckup.org is the most comprehensive web-based service where one can search the benefits and programs for seniors that have limited income and resources. You can find out programs that are available for drug prescription, in-home services, transportation, housing, healthcare, financial assistance, legal aid, and nutrition.
Ultimately, we all have to take on some type of caregiver role when it is about our elderly parents, even if we don’t live with them or provide them daily care. As parents, they once concerned themselves and devoted their time and energy to our well-being. Now, as adult children, it is our time to do the same.
No matter how one looks at it, caring for the elderly parents means making sure that they are safe, happy, and taken well care of. If their well-being is ensured, then we also have peace of mind. It is to be remembered that caring for elderly parents shouldn’t be a burden or responsibility to bear alone. There are various choices and options available to allow them to age well and happily.
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