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How to Aid Your Aging Parents: Guidelines for Coping

The aging of your parents is inevitable, but your ability to aid in the process isn’t so restricted. As our parents age and our lives get busier, our intrinsic sense of duty to care for our parents grows exponentially. The good news is, by taking a few simple yet significant steps, you can greatly lighten the load and effectively handle any concerns that may arise as time goes on.

Helping Your Parents Retain Control

Respect your parents’ need to make their own decisions and remain in control of their lives. Limits are often placed on their autonomy due to sickness, lack of financial resources and the quality of family relationships. Let them participate in the decision-making process, if possible.

Developing a quality approach to making any decisions regarding your parents is always a good idea. Here are a few ways to go about that:

The Family Plan

Reassure your parents. Let them know you are supporting them and they can depend on you to help solve problems.

Take Stock

As health and living problems arise, assess your parents’ problems and needs. A professional geriatric team, including physicians, nurses and social workers, can perform the assessment. A lawyer and financial adviser may also be helpful.

                  Educate Yourself

You and your parents (if able), need to become educated in areas relevant to their changing situation.

  • Legal matters, including wills and property ownership
  • Financial arrangements
  • Health care resources and support services
  • Housing and recreation sources
  • Current knowledge of the aging process
  • Consider a free in-home consultation from select living assistance service businesses to aid in the decision-making process

Share the Work

Don’t try to do everything yourself. Share the emotional and physical responsibilities among family, friends, professionals and private pay assistance.

Think Creatively

Brainstorm with family and friends about ways to help older family members maintain identity, continue interests on some level and create as many decision-making opportunities as possible.

Make Small Changes

Opt for the smallest change as possible at each step. Don’t be overwhelmed by the complete care that may be necessary in five years, when partial help may be all this currently needed.

Seek Advice

Obtain professional counseling if the situation or relationship with an elderly parent becomes overwhelming.

Respect Your Needs

Be honest with your parents about your time and energy limits. Be upfront about the impact on your personal time and needs. Discuss the current state of affairs and a future plan in a causal manner.

Approach the subject of your parents’ needs in simple terms. They understand the scope of their care needs and talking about the process can help defuse the tension. Once you open the lines of communication, you can begin to map a strategy that will work for everyone.

Talking Points

  • The lack of quality time together with your parent.
  • Note the physical demands of personal care and how it impacts you.
  • Define what you can and can’t do.
  • Discuss your daily routine so they understand how their care needs may affect you.
  • Draw parallels to a time in your parents’ lives when they felt overwhelmed and had no help.
  • Reaffirm your goal to get the best possible care for your parent.

With all this being said, being transparent and communicative with your parents about their current condition is always going to prove to be the best strategy for clarity and real progress towards a higher quality of life for everyone.

Visiting Angels of Flagstaff is the leader in Dementia and Alzheimer’s specialized care and serves Flagstaff, Williams, Winslow, Payson and Show Low. For more information regarding home care and living assistance services, visit visitingangels.com/flagstaff. FBN

By Jordan Fox

You can also contact the director of the Flagstaff Office, Jordan Fox, at jfox@visitingangels.com or call the office at 928-220-4100. The office is located at 718 N. Humphreys St. Ste 201, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.

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