In 2018, there were 52 million Americans over the age of 65. By 2030, that number could reach more than 70 million.
Are your aging parents among the “Baby Boomer” generation? If so, you’re no doubt concerned about how to provide the best possible care for them while juggling your own responsibilities too.
There’s no one size fits all answer to caring for aging parents. But there are definite steps you can take to assess their needs (and your own) and find solutions that work for all of you.
In this post, we’ll walk you through five factors to consider when caring for elderly parents. Read on to learn more!
1. Consider Their Wishes
The vast majority of seniors desire to stay in their homes and age in place, which is perfectly understandable. Others might prefer the idea of moving in with one of their adult children or another family member so they don’t feel isolated.
Communication is key here, so start by having an open and honest discussion with your parents. What are their preferences and wishes? What are they most concerned about as they get older? If possible, would they like to choose their own caregiver?
True, you may not be able to accommodate all of their wishes. But you should dignify them by allowing them to have as much say in the decision-making process as possible.
2. Consider Their Needs
Now that you have a clear idea of your aging parents’ preferences, it’s time to look at their actual circumstances.
Are they both still in generally good health and able to do most things on their own? Is their home free of potential hazards? Do they only need occasional help with housework, cooking, or shopping?
If they’re still mostly self-sufficient, they can continue living at home. Perhaps you or other family members can take turns checking in on them. Or, if it’s more practical, perhaps you could arrange for a home care worker to come in a few days a week to help them.
On the other hand, what if one or both of your parents is facing severe health problems? Does someone have dementia or mobility limitations? Do you worry about them falling on the stairs or in a steep driveway? Are they having difficulty with basic tasks like cleaning or cooking?
If you’re uncertain how much care they actually need, try keeping a “care journal” for a few weeks. Jot down every time your parents ask for help with a task and look for patterns. Once you know how much help they require, you’re in a better position to examine care options.
3. Consider Your Own Circumstances
It’s natural to want to provide as much care as you personally can, but you need to be realistic about what you’re able to do.
For example, do you work full-time? Do you have children of your own still living at home? How far away do you live from your parents? Are you physically (and emotionally) fit and able to provide weekly or daily care?
Be honest with your parents and yourself about how much responsibility you can handle. Caregiver burnout is common, so you don’t want to take on more than you can handle. Even if you feel you’re carrying a reasonable load, you’ll still need to make time for self-care.
4. Ask For (And Accept) Help From Others
There’s no shame in asking for help with it comes to caring for elderly parents. In fact, you absolutely can and should ask for help to ensure your parents get the best possible care.
Depending on their needs and the family’s financial situation, you may be able to hire home health aides or become a paid caregiver yourself. Or, if there are enough family and close friends nearby, perhaps you can set up a rotating schedule of caregiving or running errands.
Other ideas include:
- Signing mom and dad up for adult daycare or other daytime activities for seniors
- Finding a volunteer senior companion to spend time with your folks or take them on outings
- Ordering grocery delivery in bulk or signing your parents up for home meal delivery services
- Reaching out to members of your parents’ church, synagogue, or place of worship
- Taking advantage of free community services, such as transportation shuttles
Friends and family members who don’t live in the immediate area can still provide support by making regular phone calls or writing letters to your parents. They may also be able to help by doing research or contributing to medical or other bills.
5. Encourage Physical & Social Activities
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of providing senior care is keeping elderly ones physically and socially active. The good news is there’s plenty of fun and healthy ways to keep your parents feeling young at heart.
Encourage them to get a little bit of exercise every day, even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood or a few laps in the pool. Better yet, join them whenever you’re able to. If they’re still fit enough, you could also go biking, hiking, or camping together.
Look into fitness classes or social clubs for seniors in your community. Many centers offer water aerobics, chair yoga, book clubs, or game nights for local seniors. Not only does this get your parents up and out of the house, but it allows them to make new friends and keep their social skills sharp.
The more active they stay, the healthier and happier they’ll remain in their golden years.
Give Your Aging Parents the Best Care Today
It’s natural to feel anxious — or even overwhelmed — by the thought of caring for your aging parents. By following the tips listed above, you’ll find the best solution for you and your loved ones.
Could CDPAP be part of that solution? As we mentioned earlier, your parents may be able to hire you, a relative, or a friend to be their paid caregiver.
If you’re interested in learning more about CDPAP and how to qualify, contact us anytime with your questions. We’re here to help!