You love your parents, so it’s difficult when you see they’re no longer safe living independently. While becoming your parent’s caretaker may seem a logical decision, it will require more changes than you may think. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help with caring for your elderly parent:
1. What’s Needed?
When you see signs your parent needs care, have a discussion with them. Have they been bathing themselves properly? Have they been able to do their housework? If either of those answers is “no,” they may need a lot of help with their day-to-day.
The most critical question is whether your parent can live at home safely. You may need to get information from their neighbors or friends. If you learn your parent can no longer safely care for themselves, begin your plan to bring them to your home.
2. What Will It Cost?
Financial discussions can be awkward, but do your parent’s social security payments cover their basic expenses? Can you afford the changes you’ll have to make for your parent to live with you? In addition to examining your financial situation, check your parent’s insurance policy to see if they’re eligible for any assistance for home care.
3. How Will They Feel About Moving?
It can feel overwhelming for a parent to realize their child will now be caring for them. Even adults who admit they haven’t been able to care for themselves may find it devastating to accept they must depend on somebody else. It may initially feel as though you’re now parenting your parents.
While you’re in the preparation phase, ask your parent which foods they may like to have for meals and snacks. Look around your neighborhood for resources, like adult daycare centers or senior activity programs. Ask your other family members if they can help out with laundry or take your parent for outings. If you must leave your parent alone at home, consider buying a medical alert device.
4. What are their Medical Needs?
If your parent hasn’t been to see their primary doctor in a while, go with them to see the doctor. When your parent feels ill, try using their doctor’s Telehealth service. According to the American Medical Association, over 80% of doctors report patients can access their services more quickly when they use Telehealth services.
When it comes to bathing and personal care, can you perform those services for your parent? It will probably take an adjustment for both of you. According to Hall & Rheingans, most Americans aged 70 and over need long-term care. As difficult as it may be, would a long-term care center be a better choice for your parent?
5. What are the Mental Health Implications?
The feelings your parent may have about moving with you may amplify their feelings about the physical adjustments they make as they age. For example, male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) is the cause of 95% of male hair loss. If your Dad begins to go bald, he may react more negatively than you might expect.
Don’t forget to care for your mental health during this time. If there is a caregiver support group in your area, consider joining it for emotional support. There will be mental adjustments to make, and coping with these is essential for both of you.
Deciding to care for an elderly parent at your home may be your best decision. It could also end up as your most significant challenge. Together, you and your parent will learn to make this work for the better for both of you.