Caring for An Aging Parent When You’re an Only Child
(Old Age is a Blessing That Should Never Be a Cause for Fear)
Your parents kept you safe when you were a young child until you were ready to take on the world yourself. They taught you to be self-dependent and provided the necessities of life at the same time. Your parents were the one constant in life that you thought would never change.
One Day You Open Your Eyes and Your Parents Are Old
It’s difficult seeing how much your parents have changed over the years and to finally realize how much they now need you. As life moves through the full circle, a role reversal happens. Your father, who once walked you down the aisle on your wedding day, can no longer climb the stairs without help. Your mother, who cooked three meals a day and cleaned up after everyone else, no longer has the energy to do any more than microwave a frozen dinner.
Mom and dad seem to be doing okay when you visit occasionally but their health is constantly on your mind. Still, you live three hours away and have your own children to raise. You realize that they are rapidly becoming more frail every time you visit. You’re ready to face reality, begin making some long term plans for their advancing age, and need for help.
Now it’s your turn to give your parents the level of care that they need from you. It will be a challenge!
You Have Many Options to Help Your Aging Parents
Depending on your parent’s age and physical condition, you may want to consider a series of transitions for their living arrangements. Their living arrangements are at the heart of how active their lives will remain for years to come but you may need to face the prospect that soon they will need daily assistance and eventually nursing care. So where do you start?
Maybe the first step is helping them down size out of the family home into a single level home without any stairs. Or maybe your parents are still very active and what they would enjoy most is an active community with plenty of recreation, social, and outdoor activities. As your parents become less mobile, their quality of life real does revolve around their local community. Fortunately, today we have communities designed for active seniors. Here are some resources that you will find useful.
Downsizing and Part Time Care Could be Your Answer
It’s pretty common for the elderly to go into denial that they need to make lifestyle changes. You may be the more mature adult in the relationship at this point in time. It could be time for you sit down and have that open and honest type of conversation they once had with you. Be prepared to express your concerns in a meaningful, helpful, and loving way. Don’t expect praise and flowers for caring about how they will get along during the years to come. Instead, be prepared for some denial and anger. Keep the conversation short but leave them with resources to consider once they realize you have their best interests at heart.
Listen to What Your Parents Have to Say
You always wanted to be listened to and heard when your parents gave you advice and suggestions. Show them the same respect during these difficult conversations. They have likes, dislikes, pains, fears, and other emotions that can be hard to verbalize. Be patient and ask questions to help them express what is important to them as well as help you understand what will make them the most happy.
Even take notes that you can look back at later. Be prepared with a list of topics you want to discuss. Discuss all known medical issues and financial concerns. This may be a multipart conversation that needs to occur over weeks or even months. Make sure you have their attention during the entire conversation. Leave them with a list of what was discussed and any decisions made. They may need more reminders such as any signs and symptoms of aging that you have observed. Also a list of topics that you want to discuss the next time that you visit.
The transition will be easier and everyone will come away happier when you get your parents talking to you. Not only will things go more smoothly all around, but you may also learn some things about them that you never knew. Never make decisions without consulting them unless you are sure their thinking is not clear enough to add value to the conversation.
After this conversation is out of the way, with some input from your parents, you can put a plan in action allowing them the best life possible and your peace of mind that you have done as much for them as they once did for you.
I encourage you to continue reading our blogs. If you need more information or have questions, please contact us. You can also reach us by calling at (678) 570-8123. We'll be glad to help you!