What It’s Like Caring for Aging Parents

It’s a difficult challenge many of us may one day face. Here’s what it’s like to care for aging parents.

Parenting your parent is the new juxtaposition faced by a generation of adults from age 40 to 60. Our parents have taken care of us. How strange and unsettling it can be to land in a position of such role reversal.

20 million Americans find themselves being responsible for the care of their aging parent.  A whopping 80% of the people do this themselves instead of using the services of an institution.

This sandwich generation, adults raising kids and caring for aging parents, faces many challenges as people live longer lives than previous generations.

If you find yourself caring for aging parents, consider these things you should be doing in your new role as caregiver. 

Act Proactively

When you are taking care of a sick parent is not the time to be trying to gather information from them. Before the need arises or becomes urgent, act proactively to get informed and involved with your aging parents.

It is far better to be armed with information about them and their situation than to be scrambling. Or worse yet be in the untenable position where they can’t provide you with information.

You may find your parents resistant and put off when you attempt to get involved in their life management. Show compassion and patience as everyone adjusts to this change in roles. 

Make sure you know your parents’ medical history, medical concerns, doctors who are providing care and medication. As they age they might need help keeping track of when they need or have had medical tests.

Discuss your parents’ goals with them as they age. This can involve how much medical intervention might happen to where they want to live if they cannot live alone any longer. 

Address Finances

Caring for aging parents means you have to know their financial situation. This is often the conversation parents do want to have with their adult children.  It is important to have knowledge of financial information including:

  • Checking and savings account information
  • Investment information
  • Bills, taxes and long term debts
  • Assets
  • Insurance information
  • Social security numbers, account numbers

Discuss whether a family member should act as their power of attorney should the need arise. Discuss if they have an updated living will and spelled out their wishes for end of life care. Get these documents in order while your parents still have their faculties and can sign the needed authorizations.

Decisions Related to Care

As a caregiver to an aging parent, you must be realistic about their needs and your ability to provide the care to meet those needs. 

Evaluate regularly if they need help with their ADL (Activities of Daily Life). Do they need help with personal care? Evaluate their ability to do the following:

  • Personal care
  • Cooking and cleaning
  • Finances
  • Household chores
  • Errands and driving

Are you able to assist them in their care? Or is time to bring in outside care to provide additional support. An important part of this consideration is their safety. If safety is a concern, can they remain in their home with help or should they move to a place with more comprehensive care? 

Challenges of Caring For Aging Parents

Caring for aging parents can elicit the same kinds of emotions and challenges as parenting your children. As a caregiver, you might be faced with difficult decisions, conflicting emotions, and disagreements. It is not an easy role to take on. 

Part of this process is to be realistic about what you can do yourself and when you need to get help from an outside source. 

If you want help deciding if it’s time for more help or to find out about services available, contact us today.

Andy Niska