You are probably like the majority of people who have never sat down and talked with your parents about what will happen when this becomes a reality. This is a difficult conversation but an essential one. Knowing what they would like and what you will be able to do for them will mean that the decisions have already been made and you will not have to deal with the stress and worry of whether you have done the right thing looking after them. It is also a valuable opportunity for your parents to talk to each other about their wishes and intentions.
To resolve this, you will need to plan a meeting where all members of the family can be present; it will be difficult and emotional but a worthwhile conversation.
Observe the Signs
Having discussed with your parents the care they would like to receive and whether they wish to remain in their own home or not; you will be able to let them live their own lives. The essential thing to do as the gradually age is to look out for the signs that they are no longer able to live independently:
If their eating habits become irregular or they start to lose weight you should be looking to see if they are still shopping properly and purchasing healthy foods. A lack of food or appetite could be a sign that they are no longer able to cook for themselves.
If you start to notice that their personal hygiene is not as good as it was then you will need to consider whether they are able to bath and wash themselves properly any more. The same principle applies to the cleanliness in their home.
Many people become forgetful in older age, it is a normal part of aging and not an issue in itself. However, if they have scorched pans (a sign that they have forgotten dinner was cooking), or unopened mail and missed appointments it may be time to intervene.
This is important for everyone; you need to be able to get to the shops, visit friends, doctors or even just get out of the house. If you notice a decrease in their mobility or that they are no longer using the upstairs then you will need to take steps to help them.
As your parents reach the point that they are no longer able to look after themselves you will need to follow the decisions you all reached together in your family discussions. This may mean moving them to an assisted living facility, a nursing home or enlisting the services of a day care business. There is no doubt that this is the point that you will find yourself devoting more of your time to looking after your parents; this is the time where your own health can suffer unless you take the following precautions:
» Make time for yourself every day
This way you will have time to recharge your own batteries and stay healthy. If you become ill you are no help to anyone! Before you care for anyone else you must look after your own needs.
» Know your own limitations
Everyone has areas which they excel in and things that they are not good at. It is essential to know your own skill set and your imitations; anything outside of your care giving abilities should be handled by someone better suited for it. This will prevent you from wearing yourself out and becoming bitter about the care you have to give.
This may not be forthcoming, particularly if your parents have become forgetful. Instead of dwelling on it, remember that this path was chosen by all of you in a rational conversation. You do not need their approval to know you are doing the right thing; and that is what truly matters.
By Jason Phillips and Foresthc.com!
Site last updated: 14. October 2020
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