As children we think our parents are invincible, and while growing up means a better understanding of aging and mortality, it doesn’t make it any easier to think about the end of our parents’ life journey. And it’s not just issues involving inheritance plans or funeral wishes; how you’ll care for aging parents when they are no longer able to care for themselves is a crucial discussion that most people tend to avoid. If you plan to take on the responsibility of care for your aging parents—in your home or in theirs—planning ahead will ensure a safe and comfortable transition through the role reversal.
Determining care needs
Many seniors remain sharp and spry well into their eighties and beyond, so age alone isn’t a determining factor when it comes to needing assistance. But if your parents are exhibiting any of the following red flags, it might be time to have that tough conversation:
- Poor eating habits
- Poor hygiene
- Declined housekeeping habits
- Reduced mobility
- Compromised driving
Before deciding whether your parents will remain in their home or move into yours, there are a few things to keep in mind before making any decisions that could leave you stressed and resentful:
- Emotional toll: Depending on their needs, caring for parents who were once the epitome of support and strength can take its toll. The stress factor multiplies if you’re already overwhelmed with other stresses, such as work or raising small children. The same is true if your parents have dementia or other serious health issues.
- Logistics: Beyond living accommodations, you’ll need to know how your parents will get around town, who will be in charge of their finances, and whether your workplace will oblige last-minute time-off requests in case of emergency.
- Financial costs: Depending on your parents’ contribution to the household, grocery and utility costs will increase and you might need to invest in safety and mobility modifications.
Preparing for in-home care
Whether your parents stay in their own home or move in with you, adjustments will be necessary.
- Equipment: Depending on your parents’ medical needs, you might need to purchase or rent products for in-home care such as shower chairs, hospital beds, and patient lifts.
- Mobility: If your house is larger than your parents’ previous home or they’re having issues getting around their own, mobility equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs and scooters can help.
- Safety: You’ll need to make sure pathways are clear, rugs are taped down, and potential fire and poisoning hazards are removed. Also make sure emergency numbers are handy and next to the phone.
- Legal issues: Before taking responsibility for your parents’ care, you might need to take legal control of their healthcare with a HIPAA Authorization (which allows doctors to share your parents’ medical information with you), Health-Care Proxy (also known as medical power of attorney), and an Advance Health Care Directive (end-of-life care decisions).
Exploring outside resources
Loving your parents and wanting the best care for them doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. There are additional options such as home care aids, who provide assistance such as bathing, dressing, driving to appointments, and preparing meals. Adult Day Health Care facilities are another option, which offer social activities and therapeutic services for seniors who don’t need 24-hour care.
We can help
If caring for your aging parents requires specialized at-home medical equipment to accommodate their health needs, PA Healthcare can help. Our experts will assist you with selecting the right equipment. We also offer repair services for wheelchairs and scooters and home-delivery to anywhere in San Diego and Imperial Counties.
Give us a call today.