As your parents grow older, there will eventually be a time when you have to become more involved in their daily lives and long term plans. No matter how inevitable this role reversal is, it will usually cause tension in relationships as the children slowly begin to become more and more involved in their parents’ decision-making processes. Allow this article to act as a guide for how to assist your parents with decisions as they age.
HOW TO KNOW WHEN EXTRA CARE IS NEEDED
The symptoms of aging vary from person-to-person, and it may be difficult to tell when you should step in. Listed below are a few signs that your parents may soon need extra support:
- Memory loss, forgetfulness, lack of awareness of surroundings.
- Lack of hygiene.
- Vision or hearing impairments.
- Refusing to see a doctor.
- Struggling to be proactive with healthcare advice from medical professionals.
- Easily overwhelmed by details of medical conditions or responsibilities.
- Unable to thoroughly communicate health problems to doctors.
These issues will vary in degree and frequency, but they are signs that your parents might be losing the ability to make decisions for themselves. If you are unable to support your parents when these habits become more and more apparent, places like Arcare can provide around the clock attention and help you keep your parents comfortable. In the same manner, this is a way to combat the loneliness most aging adults face.
TIPS FOR EVERYDAY DECISIONS
Relationships can face a lot of strain if the child is actively present in their parents’ daily lives. Simple decisions like what they will wear or where they will go can cause the parent to lash out. Patience is vital in these situations, along with a few of these tips.
Ambiguity has the possibility of overwhelming or irritating your parents if they are having problems with cognitive function. Instead of asking an open-ended question, such as, “What would you like for breakfast today,” ask them if they would like to have oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. This will help you avoid arguments that might be rooted in their insecurity due to being dependent on you for simple matters.
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
You should never compare your parents to children if you’re in their range of hearing. But bear in mind, as they age, they will share some qualities with children. For example, those who suffer from dementia or Alzheimers operate better on a routine. It makes the day pass by more seamlessly when they can check things off and know what they should do next.
Giving your parents a routine structure each day will supply them with a sense of control. If things change, they might become anxious or hostile. It’s also proven that the elderly sleep better and stress out less when they have a routine.
GIVE SIMPLE OPTIONS
It’s important that you give simple, limited options that will not overwhelm them with choices. Something as simple as picking out an outfit could cause them to spiral into negative thoughts or anxiety, so lay their clothing choices for the day out rather than presenting the whole closet to them.
You might notice your parents stop bathing or taking care of themselves in the typical ways adults do. This is usually because of a lack of energy or motivation, or it could be a sign of their cognitive functions starting to waver. Always avoid sounding superior or authoritative when you speak to them about these things.
Instead of outright telling them that they need to bathe, just state your observation in an innocent way, and then make a gentle suggestion. For example, “I notice your hair looks a little extra shiny. Would you like me to get a nice warm bath going for you?” Or “Would a reminder on your phone help you remember to take your medications?”
INCLUDE OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS
Sometimes caring for one or two parents can cause mental and emotional anguish, especially if it’s every day for many hours at a time. If it’s possible, try to involve other family members to join you in caring for your elderly parents. This might be a challenge if there is a rough history between you and the other family members, but it’s necessary for your health and wellness to have some kind of assistance.
Finances will absolutely play a significant role in the level of care you’re able to provide your parents with. Research all the options out there and try to join forces (and funds) with the family to allow your parents to age comfortably. It’s likely that you will not be able to oversee them around the clock, but even if it is, it’s important never to be fearful of asking for additional help.