They say that old age is the second childhood. As once young children mature, their parents who were once full of life grow older. Life roles get reversed. Those things they did to take care of us become the things we now do to take care of them. For many people, this is unfamiliar territory that can be unsettling.
What are some ways of how we can support our aging parents?
Initiate the Conversation
Many people avoid talking about it until it’s too late and they are in crisis mode. This procrastination leads to them floundering in the wind. Confronting our fears and talking to our parents early before they need care significantly reduces the strain that comes with caregiving.
Gather together as a family to discuss this. Settle on a favorable time and place that will be conducive for such a conversation. Is there is a family member or loved one who is already dealing with aging and care issues? Use their experience as a starting point. Create a safe space for your parents to open up.
Acknowledge and help them process their grief about their coming towards the end stages of life. Be vulnerable to let them know that it’s okay to be scared. Facing this fear is the first step towards lovingly caring for them.
Learn What They Want
What do your parents want this phase of their life to play out? Do they have any plans of their own on how to approach it?After all, the purpose of care to look after their specific needs. Don’t assume these questions. Ask them what they think. Discover and assess their desires and expectations to better care for them.
Some things to find out include:
•Do they want to live in their own home, with one of the children or move into an assisted care facility?
•How independent are they in their current state? Are they able to continue living as they are? For how long? Or do they need immediate assistance instead?
•What is the state of their finances? Will they be able to afford to contribute towards covering their care?
•Who will they appoint as their proxy with power of attorney over their assets?
Help Them Settle on the Best Type of Care
Now that you know what their desires and expectations are, you can help them choose the best form of assistance. The first step is to compare aged care and home care options.Home Care is most suitable for the elderly who can no longer live independently without endangering themselves but who do not need 24-hour care. They live in their residences and have care services provided by a professional who can be live-in or part-time. These service providers ensure they take their medication on time, help uphold good hygiene and oversee regular servicing of the residence.
Aged care is most suitable for the elderly who are highly dependent on external assistance. A prominent feature of those in aged care is the presence of a debilitating, complex medical condition. Certified nurses are hired to provide 24-hour care in such cases.
In the end, the most preferred type of care will be determined by how independent your parents are, their current health status and the financial ability to cater to their care. Whether your parents opt for home-based care or assisted living facilities, it is important for them to feel loved. Decide on how you will be regularly checking in on them, so they don’t feel abandoned. The onus is on the children to return the favor and care for their aged parents as the twilight descends.