Caring for an aging parent can be emotionally and physically challenging. The needs of the person in your care will likely progress over time, and often there is a disease process at work that you need to be informed about in order to adequately meet their needs.
You may find that the needs of your parent increases drastically after an incident like a fall, or even a routine visit that uncovers that Mom hasn’t been taking her pills for the past 2 weeks and her blood pressure is out of control. This situation drives the family into crisis mode, and is stressful for even the most calm and collected among us. Once the crisis has passed, things may settle down again for a little while before the cycle repeats.
Many families live in this reactive crisis mode, and every time is just as stressful as the last. Everyone pitches in for a while, there is a schedule among the family, people take time off work, and conversations are started about next steps. Then your parent starts to improve, they get antibiotics for that infection, they get back on their medication, they tell you not to worry….that they are “just fine” and no long term plan is established.
Here are three tips from Doctor Mom for families caring for an elderly parent. Knowing the answers to these questions can guide you to know how to best support your parents and ensure that their wishes are respected.
1. Ensure your loved one’s affairs are in order. Have you discussed power of attorney? Do they have a personal directive for their health care? What happens if next time they aren’t able to resume all of their normal activities?
2. Talk about where your your parent wants to live out their days. Do they want to be at home? Do they want to live with you? Do they want to move into a long term care facility, or retirement home? Socially, it is ideal if they are able to continue to live and be involved in the community that they know best.
3. Ask for help when it comes to managing the personal care of your parents. Having a professional caregiver assist your loved one with their private care activities helps to preserve the parent-child relationship and provides helpful boundaries for you as a family caregiver.
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