Do you work, take care of our household including children, grandchildren, AND have a parent or other older loved one that depends on our help? If so, you join the millions of Caregivers in our country. It is important to remember you as a Caregiver need to take care of yourself or you will not at your best to help others.
If aging parents/loved ones need help to stay safe and healthy, you might be unsure about how to handle the situation. We are sharing steps to help you develop a practical, realistic plan that will help mom or dad be as healthy and happy as possible.
- Assess your loved one’s needs
Begin with a list to determine the things your loved one needs. You can look closely to see what needs present themselves in everyday life in this list of areas:
- Family support – who can help?
- Home safety-repairs and mobility
- Medical needs-are they addressed?
- Cognitive health-how is their memory and awareness
- Mobility-can they get around?
- Personal hygiene-do they bathe without assistance?
- Meal preparation-can they prepare meals?
- Social interaction-do they have the chance to be around company?
Write a list of answers for each area and write where help is needed. Keep safety in mind for when you cannot be there. Once you have your list, keep track by date to stay on top of any changes that should be addressed.
- Think about your own needs and abilities
Before you assume that you can take care of all your parent’s needs by yourself, have a heart to heart about your own situation.
- Does your health allow you to physically care for someone?
- Do you live close enough to visit as often as needed?
- Would you want to live with them, either in their house or yours?
- Do you have the kind of relationship that allows you to spend a lot of time together without creating a lot of negative feelings on either side?
- Are you willing to learn how to provide that care?
We want our parents and loved ones to be safe and healthy. There is no guilt in caring for your immediate family first and not having the time needed to care for your parents other elders. You are helping by thinking of their needs and taking steps to provide the best care.
- Include your parent in the process
Everyone wants to have control of their life. If possible, involve your parent as much as possible when you’re planning for their care. They will see you more as a partner rather than someone who’s part of making them lose control of their life.
They may be resistant in the beginning, so it will probably take multiple conversations. If they’re not in immediate danger, try not to force changes too quickly. Unless it’s an emergency situation, get them used to accepting help by focusing on one or two critical needs. After that, slowly add on until they’re getting all the help they truly need.
- Understand the financial situation
Think about the medical care they’re likely to need, the cost of their potential living situation (like assisted living vs moving in with you), and everyday costs like food, caregiving supplies, home safety modifications, etc.
Once you have an idea of their financial position, you’ll know if they’ll be able to afford the care they need or if they’ll need financial help. Government programs, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs may be available to help pay for long term care.
- Take care of home safety basics
Safety hazards in the house add up over time, making it easier for older adults to trip, fall, or hurt themselves. Preventing falls will go a long way to keeping your parent independent for as long as possible. Things to do:
- Making sure all floors and walkways are clear of clutter, cords, and rugs
- Adding grab bars in the bathroom and stair railings throughout
- Updating lights so all rooms are bright, and switches are easily accessible
- Ensuring all appliances work well and are within easy reach
- Minimizing the need to use stepstools or bend down low
- Make sure communication is simple and accessible
Another thing that keeps your parent safe is the ability to easily call for help and keep in touch with family and friends. Make sure their phone is easy to use and easily accessible. For some, keeping a simple mobile phone with pre-programmed numbers in their pocket is reassuring and easier to get to. Or, if your parent is open to the idea, consider a wearable medical alert device.
On top of being a safety hazard, isolation and loneliness have a serious negative effect on overall health.
- Explore available aging care options
Even after breaking down the steps, caring for your parent can be an overwhelming responsibility. Fortunately, there are aging care options and helpful resources you can rely on.
ADMT Solutions Home Health Care has Social Workers to help you with resources.
ADMT Solutions Home Health Care: In-home caregiving help – whether you hire we provide hired caregivers take care of seniors in their home. We also provide home health services.
Email us at [email protected] or call 210-729-1252.