Ensuring a Quality Life for Aging Parents
Our parents take care of us our entire lives but as they age their health makes it more difficult for them to do the daily activities they are used to doing. Often times in their later years the roles are reversed and they may need extra love, assistance and care from their children or health care provider. Caring for aging parents is not a simple task but by understanding the aging process, health concerns, senior living options, and the financial and legal aspects you can be better prepared for the journey ahead. It is also important to discuss with your parents, before any serious health issues arise, what their wishes are so that you can work together to prepare any of the needed legal or financial paperwork. Once you gain an understanding of what to expect you and your family can work together by making all the necessary preparations to accommodate the needs of your parents.
Once it has been determined that your parents are ready for a little help, there are some guidelines you can follow to make the transition from being independent easier. Do your best not to treat your parents as children. Instead communicate your concerns with them in order to figure out alternative options that they can agree on. The need of care depends on your parent’s level of dependence. This can be determined with the help of a physician. As tempting as it is, do not try to do it alone. Ask for help and advice from support groups, physicians, and family members. Stay positive. Show your parent affection and support. The links below will provide more answers for questions you may have.
As we age, we do not want to lose our independence that we have had for so long. It can be difficult to understand or even deal with but with support and understanding the process can be made easier. Your parent may still be able to live on his/her own with occasional help from you. A home health aide may also be able to provide help with daily activities. Another option may be to have the parent move into your home. Depending on their health or level of independence and/or needs there are other options available as well. The links below provide more information on long-term care, and hospice care and support.
Aging Related Health Concerns
There are many health concerns that come about as people age. Some of them include Arthritis, Dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Depression, and Osteoporosis. There are signs and symptoms of each that family members and friends can be on the lookout for. Below are a guide to a few of these health concerns.
Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability and may likely be a cause for an aging parent to require more assistance. This disease affects muscles, joints, skin, and other organs of the body. In severe cases this disease can cause daily activities to be difficult. Arthritis in the hands can cause a person to be unable to grasp items to lift or open them. Arthritis in other areas may make it difficult to stand or walk.
Alzheimer’s disease can impair thinking, behavior, and memory. It can cause restlessness, impaired judgment and communication. Alzheimer’s is different from other types of dementia. There are things that can be done and medications that can help manage the disease, but as of now there is no cure. Watching a parents health deteriorate from Alzheimer’s can be extremely difficult for the entire family. Seeking support from family and medical professionals is highly recommended and a medical professional will help direct you to the proper support avenues. Arthritis and dementia/Alzheimer’s disease are two common health concerns for the aging but there are many other health concerns as well including depression, congestive heart failure, and eye diseases.
- Causes and risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease
- Education and support for Alzheimer’s disease
- Other aging diseases and disorders
Financial and Legal Aspects
Should your parent become unable to make decisions themselves, who will take care of financial and legal aspects? Planning ahead can help to eliminate any stress that may come with these issues. Although these things are not always easy to discuss they should be discussed ahead of time. Work with your parents to gather any and all personal information and documentation that may be needed such as social security information, bank account information, wills, and power of attorney documents.
- Financial and legal protection issues
- Writing a will (PDF)
- Estate planning/durable power of attorney (PDF)
Edited by Joanna Cliff