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The Ultimate Guide to Taking Care of an Aging Parent ”
Whether it’s a nursing home or some other long-term care facility, you may not be quite ready, emotionally or financially, to place an aging parent into one of these facilities. It’s a major life decision and one that requires consent or agreement from all parties.
There is a myriad of reasons why you might choose to care for an aging loved one in the comfort of your home. Whatever your reason, it’s personal to you all, but it should be based on safety and practicality.
Taking care of an aging parent can be a full-time job, but there are a few ways you can achieve a healthy life balance for all parties involved. Learn more in this blog.
1. Have a Clear Idea of How Much Care Your Parent Needs
Caregiver burnout is a very real issue you must be aware of before you take on the care of an aging loved one. In order to avoid this type of burnout, you’ll need to have a good understanding of the scope of care your parent needs.
Whether they live with a chronic health issue or need short term rehabilitation after an accident, you want to ensure you can meet all of their needs.
Once you have a clear idea of your parent’s health and what you’re working with, create a list of daily, weekly, and monthly tasks based on the care your parent needs.
By doing so, you’ll gauge an idea of how much your loved one needs you during the day, night, over the weekends, etc. With this knowledge, you can hire the extra help that you may need if you still need to hold down a job or support your family.
Keep a notepad handy and jot down every task you have to do for your loved one, each time you do it. After a week, you should have a full idea of what your parent really needs.
2. Be Realistic When Taking Care of an Aging Parent
First thing’s first, you have to come to the realization that you are not superman/superwoman. You cannot take control of every aspect of your parent’s care if you still have a job to hold down and a family to raise.
You have to be realistic about how much you can manage and how much you can’t. It’s important to consider your own health, first and foremost. Because if your health takes a turn for the worse, who will care for your loved one, let alone your family?
Be proactive and brainstorm different ways to lighten the load of care.
3. Get the Help You Need, When You Need It
There’s absolutely no shame in reaching out for help when you need it. As mentioned, it’s a high priority when caring for another person — whether it’s full-time or part-time.
It may seem like finding the right caregiving help is time-consuming and costly, but ultimately, it will save you your health, your loved one’s health, and offer peace of mind.
You might need to be patient, think creatively, and put in a little extra effort to find the right caregiving support. But if it helps to reduce your stress, it’s all worthwhile. You want to remain open-minded and be flexible!
In terms of caregiving support, you could enroll your parent into an adult day program that includes socialization and care, while you fulfill work commitments.
Otherwise, you may need to hire a daytime in-home caregiving service. You could also consider the help of a volunteer senior companion that may be willing to offer their time during the day, or respite care if your loved one needs it.
Another helpful idea is to sign up for a meal delivery service that takes care of your main meals throughout the week — one less task to think about.
4. Divide the Responsibility Among Family
Just because you have opted to take on the responsibility as the primary caregiver of an aging parent doesn’t mean the rest of your family gets off, Scott-free.
It’s wise to divide up the caregiving responsibility between willing family members if you know you can’t handle it all on your own. Whether you divide the load between your siblings, with your spouse, or with aunts and uncles, your family members should be there to help.
Leaning on your family could look different for every situation, though. You have to assess what you need in order to make your health a priority. If that means that your parent has to move in with your sister for 6-months while you take a break, then that’s something to discuss.
It’s crucial to be flexible and fair when dividing up care responsibilities. The last thing you want is to create resentment between family members because one person is taking on more than another.
5. Brainstorm Ways To Reduce the Financial Strain
It’s no secret that caring for a loved one can take its toll on your family’s financial situation. Between home modifications, the cost of medications, therapy, hiring extra help, and additional meals, being a primary caregiver can add up.
In order to reduce the financial pressure, there are few things you can do to help, such as:
- Sourcing government and private benefits programs that assist with caregiving overheads
- Talk to your parents about being reimbursed for your care, if they have the financial support to offer
- Source generics for all prescription drugs — you can pay far less and save big time
- Buy your household supplies in bulk — i.e. cleaning and bathroom necessities, kitchen supplies
You may also want to think about spending down to qualify for Medicaid caregiving support — an elder law attorney could help with this.
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Taking care of an aging parent is a major responsibility — whether you’ve committed to it on a part-time basis, or as a primary caregiver. When you take on this task, don’t be afraid to reach out for help sooner, rather than later. Asking for help is not only for your benefit but also for everyone else around you!
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The Ultimate Guide to Taking Care of an Aging Parent