As our elder’s age, they may require increasing support and assistance to maintain their well-being and quality of life. Helping aging parents navigate this stage of life can be both a rewarding and challenging experience.
The responsibilities can be overwhelming, from managing medical appointments and medications to addressing financial and legal matters. Understanding the unique needs of aging parents, seeking available resources, and establishing effective communication is crucial in providing the best possible care and support for our loved ones as they age.
To shed some light on the same, we interviewed a home care industry expert to bring her perspective on family caregiving to light.
“Linda Miller is a seasoned Program Director Vice President with experience, a Care Adviser in the Aging and Healthcare Industry, and is certified in multiple evidence-based wellness education programs. Her experience expands into adult education, fiscal and employee management, board development, fundraising, grant writing, and strategic planning. She enjoys helping new programs develop and launch their plans and bringing community collaborations and partnerships to the table to better serve the community. planning and implementing small to large-scale conferences, health fairs, and other events while collaborating closely with the community being served.
Her successes include securing client partnerships with government and community organizations for a tech firm that generated over $1M in reoccurring annual revenue, development of an award-winning regional family caregiver program and the launching of the Northeast, Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative (OHAI) for The University of Oklahoma, Department of Geriatric Medicine. She has received personal and professional awards and spoken at multiple educational events provided locally, regionally, statewide, and nationally.”
Let’s get started with knowing what our expert thinks about family caregiving.
Vette them well. Do your background checks in the state you are living in and any states you may be bordering close to. If they hold a license in the state, don’t take their word for it, even if they show a piece of paper as verification. Instead, reach out to the licensing commission in your state and see if they are in good standing with them. I have seen instances where they have a license that has been revoked in neighboring states, and they leave to work elsewhere.
Have a contract in place with them that they sign and agree to. A contract with the person can outline the role responsibilities, time of service, compensation, and responsibilities as an independent contractor to carry their own worker’s comp insurance. You become an employer, so you know your state’s tax law responsibilities and what may happen to your home insurance carrier if they get hurt.
Always allow them to do the things they can still do safely. They can no longer drive to the grocery store, but you can take them and let them do their shopping. If they enjoy cooking but find it difficult, they can sit at a table and assist with preparing food to be cooked.
They may be able to sit and fold clothes that you wash. My father could no longer do the yard work he enjoyed, but he could sit out and “supervise” and guide us on how he liked his yard cared for. Never do things just out of convenience for you or think you are making it easier on them.
If you can break down some steps to complete the items they still wish to help with, allow it safely.
It is vitally important for caregivers to remember to schedule downtime for themselves. They cannot care for anyone else if they don’t first care for themselves and maintain good mental and physical health. Remember to incorporate things that bring joy into your life. That is not being selfish.
Learn to say NO and incorporate a team to help. Ask family and friends what they would like to do to help and then let them do it. If you don’t have help, it’s even more important to stay on top of your own doctor’s appointments, relax, and schedule it into the day. One of our partnering agencies that support caregivers with Trained and Certified Family TCARE specialists who know exactly how to help prevent burnout, guide each caregiver on a self-care plan, and help incorporate time back to themselves for critical self-care.
Link with the Area Agency on Aging in your parent’s area and see their services. There is technology out there now that can help with home monitoring, and if you have a good connection with local family and friends, ask them how you can help.
For instance, you may not be able to be there to help with hands-on things, but you can help with ordering groceries that can be delivered or identify services that would be good, such as lawn care. Visit as often as you can and look for things in the home that could be possible fall risks. Stay in touch with their local friends and family to see if things change.
Ask your parents how you can help. Let them know that it would mean a lot to you and give you peace of mind knowing that you can help them and it’s not taking away from your life.
It’s a gift for you to give back.
Learn about the health and disease conditions that your loved one is dealing with so that you can make educated conclusions about changes that may be happening or special care that they may need. Even if a terminal diagnosis has been given, you can learn how to help them have a good quality of life during progression of the disease.
Find a support group and connect. These are wonderful places to meet new people going through the same kind of experiences as you and learn from them! They share support and care tips and can lend an understanding ear when you get frustrated, which is a normal part of caregiving. Don’t swoop in and start doing things they can still safely do for them.
Learn to set up boundaries that are comfortable for you. Remember to practice self-care.
Helping aging parents is a complex and multi-faceted endeavor that requires compassion, patience, and proactive planning. As older adults navigate the challenges of aging, our role is to provide them with the necessary support and resources to live a fulfilling, independent, and comfortable life.
By fostering open communication, staying informed about their medical, financial, and legal needs, and seeking assistance from relevant professionals and community services, we can ensure that our aging parents receive the care and attention they deserve in their golden years.
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