As an adult child, caring for an aging or sick parent is a major responsibility. While there are many factors and decisions to consider, there are also precautions the adult child must prepare for and seek to avoid while caring for their aging parent.
- Failure to plan ahead. Be sure to take proactive steps for long-term care in
regards to your parent. Research the different living options that are available and what the best option may be for them; in-home care, adult daycare, assisted living, etc. Also, seek background information and survey results from residents or clients. Meet with healthcare or senior care specialist to discuss your specific situation, figure out together what the best option for your parent(s) may be.
- Emotionally unprepared. Failing to prepare yourself emotionally for the changes that come with aging parents can have a permanent effect on you. Give yourself enough time to cope mentally and emotionally, especially if you’re now sharing your house with your parent(s), they’re suffering from an illness, or they’re experiencing memory problems which contribute to moodiness or frustration. The more emotionally and mentally prepared you are, the more patience and understanding
you will have with your aging parent.
- Give them space to fail. Of course you want to protect your parents as they protected you as a child. However, try to remember, that as a child, often times you needed and wanted your own space to try things yourself. The same goes for your parents. Give them the space to figure out their own care needs, as long as
they aren’t facing severe risks. Small needs like keeping up with the house,
cooking, home repairs, etc.
- Failing to understand the overall situation. Not evaluating your parent(s)’
cognitive ability and overall health won’t help you understand their situation any better and will lead to more frustration. Have them evaluated for dementia, early signs of Alzheimer’s or other degenerative cognitive diseases, as well as a full health evaluation to better understand the care options, treatments and medications that need to be changed or taken.
- Failingto let your parents feel a sense of control. Everyone needs and wants to feel in control of their lives, no matter what age they are or how ill they become. It’s natural to want to help your parents without asking them, but instead discuss with them their opinions and wants so they feel they are able to have a say still, and find a way to compromise on issues that you may not see eye-to-eye on. Remember, it’s still their life.
- Neglecting to take proper care of yourself. It’s easy to become so caught up with taking care of your aging or sick parent, that you forget about your own health, which will slowly begin to deteriorate. Remember, to take time for yourself ever so often, find a support group, schedule and maintain regular doctor appointments. If you’re not healthy and taken care of, it will reflect on the care you provide for your parent.
There are several factors, issues and topics to consider while taking care of an aging or sick parent. It may seem overwhelming, however, by preparing in advance and becoming cautious and educated with your parent’s situation, will help to eliminate stress.