There are currently 40.4 million unpaid caregivers of adults ages 65 and older in the United States. The majority of caregivers are between the ages of 45 and 64.
If you are caring for elderly parents, the reversal of roles might seem surprising at first. Becoming responsible for someone else’s medical appointments, housework, and finances can be overwhelming, especially for folks who are busy with their own jobs and children.
It is important to remember to breathe deep and stay organized. Remaining busy with caretaking responsibilities can actually help you manage emotions and develop strength during a somewhat confusing time.
Make a List
As unnecessary as it may seem initially, make a list of things your folks will need your help with. You will need to create a caretaking schedule, as well as line up shipments and medical appointments. Your parent’s dignity will depend upon them their basic needs cared for daily.
They may need help bathing or showering, cleaning and preparing their home, or managing and paying bills. Your parent may need you to drive them to medical appointments, take them grocery shopping, or set up a schedule for them.
If your parents still live in their own home, you will want to arrange for someone to help with morning with routines like brushing their hair, taking medications, and fixing breakfast. You and your siblings can arrange shifts based upon who is available, or you can hire home health care aids such as those at CareBuilders at Home. Figure out who can be there at lunchtime, dinnertime, and bedtime to cook and provide companionship.
Keep an online calendar where you list each of your parents’ doctors appointments, and be sure that you arrange transportation for them. Share it with all of your siblings if you are all taking turns based upon your schedules.
If your parent is going to be living with you or one of your siblings, be sure that other relatives or friends are scheduled to pitch in at certain times during the week so that the entire burden does not fall on one person. You should be realistic about how much each caregiver can provide without causing harm to their own mental health.
If your parent is going to be moved to an assisted living community, nurses, dietitians, and health care aids can help with nutrition and mobility. Be sure to discuss visitation plans with your siblings, children, nieces, and nephews so that your parents always have something to look forward to.
Get Some Help
If you do not have siblings close by, it is important to find some trusted help to assist with responsibilities. Your house of worship, community organization, or medical professionals may be able to help you locate local volunteers who can visit or provide meals occasionally.
Your insurance company should be able to recommend an affordable home health-care aid. You should also be sure to contact a lawyer and tax professional for issues concerning your parents finances and estate.
There are also countless support groups online or in communities that can help you maintain your sanity during an emotional, and sometimes overwhelming, time.
Do Some Shopping
Many elderly parents need help with mobility. Specialized local pharmacies can help you find wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters that can help them get around their home with ease. If your parents are not going to be living with you, be sure that you purchase a device that will allow them to signal for help if they are unable to move and cannot reach their cell phones.
When making the final decision about where your parents should live, it is important to have a serious conversation with them that involves any spouses or siblings. Consider how often they will need assistance, and how strong their health is. While safety comes first, you will also want to think about your parents’ social needs, and their desire for friendship and entertainment.
Do Some Shopping
Make a list of your parents’ budget and resources, as well as your own ability to help financially. Decide what your priorities are in terms of care expenditures.
If it is possible, see how many errands you can automate. Mosts local grocery stores have a delivery option, and discounts are available if your parents are regular customers. CVS, Amazon, and Walmart all have good subscribe-and-save prescription programs where you can get 15-20% if you are reordering automatically.
You can also save on prescription drugs by switching to a generic brand. Some mail-order pharmacies will give you a sizeable discount with a 3-month supply. You can also apply for Social Security extra help with prescription drug costs.
Save Important Information
Get a list from your parents of important data that can be maintained in case of an emergency. This should include bank and investment accounts, wills and trusts, burial plans, medical information, insurance information, names of professional advisors, and real estate information.
Be sure to keep all important names, phone numbers, and policy numbers in a safe place.
Your parents may have heirlooms, photo albums, or stories that they want to share with you. If necessary, rent a safety deposit box at a bank to keep priceless items safe.
Keep A Cool Head While Caring For Elderly Parents
The business of caring for elderly parents is an emotional one. However, if you maintain a calm demeanor and stay organized with lists, support, and schedules, you will handle it like the mature adult you always knew you were.
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