Coming To Terms With The Fact Your Parent Might Need Care
Unfortunately, it can often take an accident of some kind to highlight just how much your elderly parent now needs help. Whether this involves an accident in their home where they’ve tripped and hurt themselves; leaving appliances on; accidently setting fire to something or even in their confusion, not being able to find their way home from their local shops.
Many children don’t want to face up to the fact their parent is now unable to cope on their own. This is someone who has been there from the start, looked after you throughout your childhood, teenage years and throughout adulthood. The last thing you really want to think about is your parent’s own mortality.
However, we must all accept this does happen and try to recognise this fact before something truly awful happens and it’s too late for us to take action.
1. Talk things through with your parent/s before it’s too late
Even though you may think it seems insensitive or pointless because it’s so far away, it’s not. It’s never too early to plan things through with your parents. You never know what’s around the corner, so it’s better to be too early than too late. You need to be sure you know exactly what your parents want, before they are unable to communicate it to you.
2. Know where they keep their vital documents
Once again, it is important to ask your parents where they keep their important documents, such as their Wills, medical documentation and any financial documentation too. This will ensure, in the event of anything happening to your parent/s, you have all the information you need to make the decisions they would have wanted.
It will also prepare you in terms of their financial situation, which can have a large impact on the type of care they can have access to and how this care is funded. Make sure you or someone else you and your parents trust and respect has Power of Attorney, just in case something occurs meaning your parent/s are unable to make reasonable decisions on their own behalf.
3. Attend doctor appointments with your parent/s
You should be aware of all the medications your parents are on since it is always best to be prepared. However, it is also worth attending the odd doctor appointment or check-up with your parent/s too. This is so you can get to know the doctor so in the event of needing more information or advice, you know who to talk to.
It will also ensure you stay up to date with any conditions your parents have and give them the support they need if they receive an unwelcome diagnosis. It will also ensure you are there to ask any questions that your parents may not feel up to asking.
4. Evaluate their living situation
If you feel your parents are becoming less mobile, it is important to talk to them about the possibilities of moving. Whether you mean moving closer to where you live, moving into a bungalow, or moving to an assisted living facility, where they can still live independently but should they need help, they can call on one of the facility’s employees and receive prompt help.
It is also worth considering making safety additions to their home, such as installing grab bars, clearing their house and garden of trip hazards, adding non-slip strips onto indoor and outdoor steps and on slippery surfaces, i.e. bathroom and kitchen floors and bath itself.
5. Be realistic about how much you’re able to do
No one wants to think about the time when their parents are not going to be able to care for themselves properly. Caring for an elderly person is not easy and to be frank, is often even more difficult when you know the person you’re caring for because it’s a lot more emotional and stressful.
You need to think carefully about how much you can physically do, for example could you lift your mum or dad and take them to the bathroom if they needed you to? Can you financially afford to take the time off work to care for them? Can you even fit full-time or part-time care into your daily life? How would being a carer for your parent/s affect your partner and children?
There are many questions to be answered and that is why it is so crucial to ask these questions early. You may not want to put your mother or father into a care home or have a professional carer look after them, however, you may not have a choice. You really do need to think carefully about what is going to be best for them, as well as yourself.
- License: Image author owned
Laura writes for Extra Mile Care. When not writing, she can often be found giving and listening to elder care advice.