Medical advancements have enabled people to live longer. Though everyone wants to live longer, some people outlive their ability to care for themselves. In such instances, family members must make a decision regarding how best to care for an elderly relative.
According to “Aging in Place in America,” a commissioned study by Clarity and the EAR Foundation, 63 percent of baby boomers are actively involved in providing some kind of help or assistance to their elderly parents. Whether this is due to the rising cost of elder care or simply a feeling of obligation on the part of the child, many middle-aged men and women are responsible for caring for aging parents and young children.
The emotions that might result from caring for an aging parent are often mixed. Some people are happy to do their part to help make life a little easier for a person who devoted so much of his or her energy to raising them. Others in the sandwich generation can feel like this is a burden or guilty that they’re not doing enough for a parent.
Signs an elder needs help
When an older relative stops driving, this is often indicative that he or she needs assistance with daily living. There also may be signs that support and care is needed, such as if the house seems untidy, if he or she is having trouble maintaining personal hygiene, if the parent is getting hurt attempting to do things around the house or if he or she seems malnourished due to the inability to cook meals. Limited mobility or loss of mental faculties also may be indicative that it is time for a loved one to receive care.
Questions to ask
Although taking on the care of an aging parent may seem like the best idea possible, particularly for a senior who is very afraid of losing his or her independence, it may not always be in either party’s best interest. Before anyone determines what will be done to help a relative, it’s best to answer a few questions as straightforwardly as possible.
• What type of care does my parent need?
• How soon into the future is that type of care bound to change?
• Can this care be handled by someone who comes into the house, such as a visiting nurse?
• Will my parent feel comfortable with an outside person helping with day-to-day care?
• What are my parent’s limitations?
• Am I capable of handling this on my own?
• Can I afford an adequate care facility?
• What are my local facility options?
• Will this type of care affect my own personal well-being?
• Can I handle this emotionally and physically?
Any person facing the prospect of caring for an aging parent can realize that there is help available, as well as many different people who can help guide a decision. The first resource is to ask siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins to weigh in on the situation to help the family come to a consensus.
There are also social workers who specialize in this sort of thing, as well as financial consultants who can spell out the pros and cons of different types of care and help determine the most affordable option. This can also go a long way toward helping determine the course of action.
The burden of caring for a parent can take a physical and mental toll on a person. Knowing there is a support circle available can ease one’s mind and enable caregivers to make rational decisions that are in everyone’s best interest.