What Happens When Your Parents Need Care? 

June 22, 2019

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With life expectancies and complex medical treatments developing all the time, many of us will be in the situation of wanting to care for elderly parents at some point in our lives, often while dealing with raising young families at the same time. This is a situation that, if handled right, can have huge benefits for all involved, but can also be uniquely pressured and stressful. Going from a parent-child relationship where they are firmly in charge, to one where you are, can bring challenges for both parties and having a loved one move into your home - whatever state of health they are in - requires a whole new negotiation of shifting boundaries. It can also be incredibly hard emotionally to see our parents struggling with aging or in poor health. There will be a lot of important decisions to make in a short space of time, and it's very important that you are able to have honest discussions about subjects ranging from their physical issues to their financial one.

Assess The Situation

When the issue is touching on loved ones and their care, it's easy and understandable to have a reaction purely based on emotions. However, when it comes to making important decisions about the future of their care, you need to try and think logically. There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, so make a clear assessment of the type of care and medical assistance your parent needs on a day to day level. Are they able to bathe and dress themselves? Can they get out of the house on their own? Handle their shopping and medical appointments? Think about the level of support you can practically give, and consider that this may get more intense in the future. Are you able to help by doing a few simple things to help them maintain independence, like ordering their shopping online or sourcing hearing aid batteries or do they need more intensive support? Rather than doing all the thinking on your own, make sure you involve your parent in the discussion fully. What are their opinions on using carers? How do they feel about residential care options? You and they must consider the needs of the whole family and how certain decisions may impact.

What Changes Can You Make?

Often an initial elderly care plan doesn't have to be dramatic. You may find that a few relatively simple changes can help enormously-things like mobility aids to help them get out of the house, or installing a stair lift or grab rails and a folding seat in the shower or a walk-in bath can go a long way towards maintaining independence. There are also options in between at home care and a care home, such as assisted living flats or even just going to a day centre where they can socialise and take part in activities to give some structure and routine. It's also time for an honest discussion about finances. Think about how any of these decisions can be paid for, and if you're intending to take on more caring responsibilities, whether that will affect the hours you can work - if going part-time or freelance is an option, how will you cope with the drop in income?

There are some difficult decisions ahead, but with a little honesty and a lot of communication, together you can make the right decision for everyone.

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