Some call it the “circle of life”– Once upon a time, our parents took care of us. They raise us (to the best of their ability) to be the most independent, adults we can be. As the years pass, our parents grow old and eventually rely on their children to take care of them.
Today; more Americans are living longer, and the number of adult children taking care of an aging parent has dramatically risen. As our nation grows older, the need for care givers will be as common as the need for child care.
Thus (given the circle of life), we assume responsibility in caring for an aging parent as our due diligence. While most are happy to assume responsibility of our elderly parents’ well-being, too many underestimate the burden that comes along with the newly acquired title “care giver”. The level of help required is far more than driving your parents to appointments, running errands, and assisting them financially. Caring for an aging parent can cost you your time, money, and own experiences.
When facing difficult times, it is best to set yourself up for success. The more “prepared for caring” you are, the less stress you’ll face. We found the AARP’s planning guide particularly useful.
HERE IS A RECOMMENDED SIMPLE 5 STEP PLAN:
Step 1: Prepare to talk
We instinctively avoid difficult conversations and admitting to our shortcomings makes them realities. When confronted with conflict, it is human nature to be faced with the choice to “fight or flight”. During emotional times, our brain physically has difficulty thinking rationally. It is important to be delicate but effective when delivering our message.
To help you best “prepare to talk”, answer these questions:
Who is the best person to hold this conversation?
What are your biggest priorities or concerns?
What are you afraid will come of this conversation?
In the past, how does your family usually respond to uncomfortable conversations?
Step 2: Form your team
Consider all of the people this situation may affect. Who are the people you want or need to be involved in the caregiving plan?
Step 3: Assess needs
It is important to keep the person you are caring for well-informed and included in the conversation. Find out what they want and what they need. Do this by visiting and checking in as often as possible.
Step 4: Make a plan
Now that you have formed your team and assessed the needs, it is time to form a plan of attack. Your plan should never be set in stone but act more as a guide or template to follow. Try to cover and address all of your fears for the affected loved ones.
Step 5: Take Action
A plan is like hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. The success and effect of a caregiving plan is only measured when the plan is put into action. When the unexpected happens, you will be ready!
If any of this is overwhelming, we at Parentis Health can provide compassionate Parentis Care Advisors to assist you through this journey. Call us for a no-cost care consult. We can help design a care plan that fits yours loved one’s needs.