Most seniors benefit from the personal care that they can get by growing older in their own homes. But parenting seniors is often fraught with anxiety and indecision. How can we make it easier to take care of our parents at home and give them the quality of life that they deserve?
1. Home Sweet Home
Seniors want to remain at home surrounded by possessions and memories. So take a look at what you and your parent are spending on care giving to understand the cost of caring for your parent in their home. Then explore free or low-cost public benefits. Check out https://www.benefits.gov/ the official benefits website of the U.S. government.
2. Consider Downsizing
Consider downsizing. Whether your parent moves to an assisted living community or into a smaller home that is closer to family and healthcare services, recognize that this is an emotional challenge. This means that most seniors need ample time to part with the belongings because so many memories are tied up with them.
3. Hire professional help
If your parent’s needs are extensive and challenging, you might want to call in a senior-care manager who can put together a care plan for you and help you identify community resources to reduce your own expenses and time.
4. Call in family members and friends
Many people are happy to provide company and even run errands for an elderly relative or friend. So don’t be shy of asking them to help care for a senior.
5. Reap the benefits of brain work
Engaging in games and playful activities can improve daily life skills, cognitive ability, and emotional wellbeing. Lumosity, Peak, and Elevate are three popular brain training apps. Traditional arts and crafts work well too.
6. Talk to the doctor
Maintain a good relationship with your parent’s primary care physician. That way you’ll feel comfortable when asking questions or requesting periodic updates.
7. Watch out for financial scams
Financial abuse of seniors is a scourge. Make sure that your parent is protected from making hasty, poor, and expensive financial decisions.
8. Have a clear long-term care plan.
It might be an awkward conversation, but do take the time to discuss values and goals of care so that you know what your parent wants. Have an eldercare expert or attorney explain the differences between a living will, durable power of attorney and a health care proxy. Alternatively, you can find state templates through organizations like AARP and Five Wishes. Medicare also recommends getting one from your health care provider, attorney, local Area Agency on Aging or state health department.
9. Be on the lookout for early warning signs
If you see that your parent becomes excessively forgetful, forgets to take medications, or no longer enjoys pleasurable activities, you may want to reexamine the care that you’re giving and change your direction.
10. Remember to take a break
Senior caregivers are often sandwiched between caring for an aging parent and their own young children. This pressure leaves little time for self-care, but slotting it in is a must. Do you like to take a walk? Meditate? Even 20 minutes can rejuvenate you and leave you ready to carry on with a smile.
There are 40.4 million unpaid senior caregivers in the United States and most of them report getting tremendous satisfaction. Implement these tips so you can avoid the stress and know that you’ve done your best.