Caring for aging parents is never easy and it’s a responsibility few of us think about in advance. When we do consider it, it’s usually scary and confusing, leaving us with a sense of inadequacy. However, if you face the reality that your parents are become frail and ill, this is a topic that the entire family must discuss.
Caregiving is stressful and challenging both physically and emotionally, so all family members need to devise a plan and strategy, get well informed about the medical conditions and have realistic expectations. Issues that need to be addressed are personal and financial documents, legal aspects and caregiving options.
Whether you decide to care for your parents at home with support of family and professionals, or you believe it’s better to become a part of a care community, what really matters is providing your aging parents with a warm and friendly environment.
Here are several aspects to bear in mind when providing care for your aging parents.
Understanding the illness
The first step towards providing the best care possible for your aging parents is understanding their condition and illness, especially if they suffer from dementia. This is a very specific condition that causes a continual brain deterioration, specifically memory, thinking, understanding and language. It’s also degenerative and progressive and can cause behavioural and personality changes, hallucinations and loss of ability to care for oneself.
Process of adjustment
As the family situation changes and roles reverse, it can be difficult for adult children to manage, especially when they have to watch their once vibrant and healthy parents become ill and dependable. This is a difficult transition and requires major changes and adjustments.
Fortunately, there are practical ways that can prepare you for the new family roles. Firstly, have the conversation with your parents before great challenges arise. Have a family meeting and discuss your parents’ care preferences. Next, collect your parents’ medical documents and assess their finances. Having these two in order will give the whole family a great sense of relief.
Finding the solution
Once you understand the illness and assess the situation, you can begin to make plans. Your priority should be making your parents feel secure, loved and taken care of. Receiving empathy and compassion from all family members is what will give your parents tremendous support.
If you notice that your parents’ condition is worsening rapidly and it feels like you won’t be able to handle it all, it’s time you consider setting them up in an aged care home. There are various favourable options available through the Australian Government-subsidised Home Care Packages or you might opt for high quality dementia care in a specialized facility that offer not only excellent medical help, but provides a sense of security and peace of mind for the whole family.
As your parents’ health condition will change inevitably, you need to think ahead and be prepared. As their care giver, go through all the options, including financial planning as well. Having this as yet another responsibility can be quite a heavy burden, so turn to professional advisers and care givers to help you make plans about the future, as they are familiar with what the health care needs and costs are.
Making decisions about providing the best care for your aging parents is always hard, both for the patents and for their loved ones. The course of action is educating yourself on all of its aspects and available options, having open communication, a lot of patience and compassion.