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Aging affects us all. Watching our parents look after their parents, and knowing one day we will have to do the same, can be a hard pill to swallow. The idea that our parents – the ones who have been there through thick and thin – will one day need our help can be heartbreaking, but with the right resources and knowledge, approaching the subject can be much easier for all those involved. Even those elderly parents that currently live independently may one day need long-term care, and as adult children, it’s our responsibility to help set plans in place, just in case. Aging can affect people in different ways – both physically and mentally. As a result, the quality of life our parents can provide for themselves can dramatically change. The more aware we are of the effects of aging, the more helpful care we can offer. Below are a series of things that need to be considered when caring for elderly relatives.
How effectively seniors can carry out activities of daily living (ADLs) can significantly affect their quality of life. ADLs include activities such as cooking and feeding, dressing, showering, and personal hygiene. Identifying whether your elderly parents are capable of doing all of these things will help you to understand what level of care you are required to provide or what level of care you need to look into for them.
Help with ADLs might be as simple as installing bars and handles next to the bath or toilet so they can push themselves up. Additional services like meals-on-wheels can also help ensure your parents are eating healthily without encroaching on their independence.
Although not as fundamental, instrumental activities of daily living are also something to consider, these include shopping for groceries, cleaning the house, managing money, or remembering to take their medications. For the overall wellbeing of elders, these IADLs are important to consider. If they lack the mobility to do these things, adult children can help by doing the shopping for them or creating a medication timetable for them to follow. Siblings can also take it in turns to keep the house clean or hire professional cleaners to stop by regularly.
If you find your elderly relatives are struggling with both ADLs and IADLs. It might be time to reconsider their living arrangements. There are plenty of solutions and help available to care for parents at home, so moving them to a care home immediately isn’t necessary and can cause resentment or anxiety.
Key For Long-term care
There are several ways for seniors to access long-term care:
- Living with a relative
- In-home care
- Independent living communities
- Assisted living
- Nursing homes
Each of above mention options come with their own list of pros and cons. Some may not be possible within your family dynamic. It’s important to remember that your job is to keep your parent as comfortable and happy as possible. So making sure they’re involved in any decisions about their care is vital. In-home care is a great place to start and allows elders to maintain a level of security and a feeling of being settled. Nobody enjoys moving, especially when you’ve lived somewhere for so long. Seniors or aged persons may prefer to stay at home and access care through home visits. Those choosing to live at home may need home adjustments to be made to help them get around easier on their own. Installing a downstairs bathroom, for example, can aid those who struggle climbing the stairs.
Alternatively, independent living communities can help keep their sense of freedom while still providing them with care when needed. It will also open the ways to new social circles and professional services that are easier to access. These types of communities often have local amenities, as well as a gym, laundry service, and clubhouse. Assisted living is the next step. These communities offer care for those who can’t carry out activities of daily living without assistance. They can still offer a large amount of independence but also provide peace of mind that someone is there to help when needed.
As a last resort, nursing homes offer medical attention and care with a more hands-on approach. Care homes are for those that require much more surveillance while also providing a comfortable setting.
To search out more about the senior living options in your area, you can speak to the professionals at Frontier Management.
Unfortunately, caring for your elderly relatives can come at a huge cost, and understanding your family’s current financial situation. As well as the resources that are available to you, can really make a difference. By 2050, it’s expected that a fifth of the US population will be elderly (over 65), so it’s no wonder that there are plenty of government and non-profit schemes in place to help the aging population live their best life, no matter how old they get.
You can find information about the benefits you may be eligible for at benefits.gov. Closer to home, you can find support and advice via the Area Agency. They’ll be able to provide you with information about the care and support available in your county or city. Which will be really helpful when trying to care for relatives while maintaining close contact. The agency will also be able to send any documents or forms you need to fill in to apply for benefits and programs.
Lastly, you can use the National Council of Aging’s benefit checkup checkup to see which benefits you or your relatives are eligible for. Everything from utility assistance, food stamps to prescriptions can help manage the financial requirements for caring for family members.
Your own support system
Caring for elderly relatives is a stressful learning curve and can create all sorts of emotional reactions. It’s important that while figuring out the best solutions for your relatives, you have your own support system in place. Caring can be incredibly tiring but also emotionally draining. Make sure your partner and other family members understand what you’re going through so that you feel less alone.