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Many people are unsure of how to handle aging parents in our society today and think the best option is a long-term care home. However, every situation is different and each can come with their own unique sets concerns and situations. For example, maybe all your loved ones need is a little help in helping themselves.
What are your concerns? Listed below are 5 common issues that arise with aging parents and advice to help you navigate each situation.
Are you concerned with your parents’ safety in the home?
Before you rush to the conclusion that your parent or parents have to move out or go to a nursing home, try evaluating their home situation. If your parent is physically frail, but cognitively sound, simple home safety measures may be all s/he needs. Try asking yourself these questions: How likely is it that your parent will fracture a bone in a fall? Is staying in a familiar setting important to them?
There are some things you can do to ensure your parents’ safety. Inspect their home for potential hazards, such as loose rugs, slippery surfaces, loose stair rails, and then take advantage of modern daily living aids to make the home safer and easier for them to navigate.
If you think that a parent is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or some other form of dementia, you may need to move him or her or arrange for live-in help. Small crises can be a red flag, like if Dad has been starting little kitchen fires; it may be time to reevaluate that level of safety concern before disaster strikes.
Is the house not as clean as it use to be?
Try to figure out if the problem with cleaning is physical with your parents. Arthritis, a common condition in the elderly, can make reaching, bending and even sweeping difficult. Also, Mom and Dad may not even notice the dust or the mustiness as their senses start to deteriorate.
Maybe you could give your parents a gift certificate for a cleaning service? If you’re afraid of strangers preying on your unassuming parent, set up a meeting with them first and be sure to check credentials and referral sources.
Are you worried about your parents eating habits?
Next time you stop by, snoop around the kitchen. Is the pantry stocked or do you see nothing but sweets and fast food wrappers? Is there healthy food in the refrigerator or are many of the items expired? Go grocery shopping with your parents and help them stock up on the foods that are convenient and nutritious. Then, you can share recipes - particularly healthy simple ones that they can freeze for easy meals every week.
Are you afraid your parents may not be taking their medication?
Older people who are living with a various illnesses often make the mistake of stopping their medication when they feel better, only to have serious or even dangerous symptoms reappear later. Make sure the doctor is explaining to your parents that they have to keep taking their pills to control the disease. You could also get them a pill box for easy management – there are even alarm pill boxes available that are designed to audibly alert the user when it is time to take their pills.
Do you worry your parents are making poor financial decisions?
Placing yourself in the middle of your parents’ financial affairs is a touchy subject because it can undermine their send of self control. First, ask them if they would ever consider allowing a friend, relative or financial advisor help pay their bills. If not, see if they would ever consider a joint checking account or a two-signature account, which would still allow them to write checks but require your approval for any large amounts.
In many cases, long-term care is necessary, but it is important to be sure it is the right decision for your family before taking that step. With a little help, your parents may be able to stay in their own home for a few extra years.