Caring for your aging loved ones is a challenging yet very important task to take on. From arranging their finances and taking them to appointments to figuring out where they’ll live as they continue to age, there’s a lot to figure out as their primary support system. For some, it seems nearly impossible to figure out where to begin.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some helpful steps to take as you begin to take charge of your elderly parents’ health, wellness, and safety. Read on to learn more.
1. Evaluate their needs
Every individual experiences the aging process differently. For some, health concerns and support needs are more substantial, while others can live more independently. As you begin to offer more support and care for your aging parents, it’s a good idea to start by evaluating their needs.
Evaluating your aging relatives’ care needs ultimately comes down to these categories:
- Health care: Work with your parents to determine whether they need help getting to and from doctor’s appointments, additional help taking medicine, etc.
- Finances and decision-making: Oftentimes, aging individuals have a harder time making important decisions on their own. In order to make sure your loved ones are protecting their personal and financial interests, evaluate whether they need or qualify for help.
- Food: Are your aging family members able to grocery shop or prepare food on their own? Assess this need and decide whether they need in-home support, meal delivery, or another form of care.
- Shelter: Finally, assess their shelter needs. If your parents are unable to live safely on their own, you may need to consider a care facility or other options.
2. Determine your own capacity for care
Taking on the care of an elderly person is not an easy job to do, and between your caretaking responsibilities and your personal needs, it can be tough to find a healthy balance. As you begin to take on additional responsibilities on behalf of your loved ones, make sure to assess your ability to do so. Remember, taking care of yourself is essential if you want to also care for others.
3. Organize financial affairs early on
As we mentioned earlier in this post, finances can be an especially challenging obstacle to deal with as your parents begin to age and need extra support. To avoid additional problems later on down the road, it’s a good idea to make sure their finances are ironed out ahead of time. Drafting up an estate plan, creating a care budget, and assessing the accessibility of their emergency fund are a few high-level things to focus on. As you work through these line items, consider any extra assets or accounts that may impact their unique situation as needed.
4. Document health care needs
Ensuring your parents health is taken care of should be among your top priorities as their primary support system. And as their support system, you’ll always ensure their health and safety needs are met, however, it’s a good idea to write up a backup plan and document their needs in case you can’t be there every time they need a helping hand.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare and ensure your aging parents’ health and safety needs are met:
- Describe any information on their conditions that could be helpful to a caregiver or emergency worker. For example, many elderly people have hand tremors caused by age but they could easily be misidentified as Parkinson’s Disease.
- List out anti tremor medication names and schedules to make sure they’re taking the appropriate medications when they need to.
- Write down emergency phone numbers and program them for easy use in case your elderly parents experience an emergency scenario while you’re away.
5. Ask for help
Caring for aging loved ones is a big responsibility, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to go it alone. It’s okay to ask for help from friends and family, or enlist the help of a professional caregiver if you need to. Understand your own limits and work together with your loved ones to come up with a plan that works for all of you.
Use this guide to help you navigate the initial steps to take as a caregiver to an elderly parent, and don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comment section below.