As many Baby Boomers are discovering, caring for aging parents is not an easy undertaking. This is due in part to aging relatives that are unwilling or unable to age gracefully, either because they ignore it or refuse to make changes to accommodate their aging. Regardless of how healthy and in-shape your parents may have been in their younger years, they need to understand that the aging process affects everyone and changes need to be made to take this into consideration.
Some points that seniors and their caregivers should address before concerns arise are as follows:
Get Checked by a Doctor
Denying that aging is happening and that changes need to be made is a huge issue early on. Many seniors overlook or neglect health problems simply because they don’t want to believe that they are having the problems typified by getting older. Many seniors will put off going to the doctor until a condition has escalated beyond a simple doctor’s visit and moved onto a need for hospitalization. If you see your aging relatives’ health conditions deteriorating, you need to be proactive and have a family meeting if necessary to help them face the issues.
Plan for Potential Health Problems
You need to work with your aging relatives to put plans and procedures in place for when an emergency arises. One of the best steps you can take is to have a home medical alert system put in place. These systems provide round the clock access to emergency help in the event of a fall or other health crisis. Once the medical alert button is pressed, customer service representatives will put their training into action and offer assistance to the patient, ranging from dispatching emergency personnel to calling a neighbor or friend to get them to stop by depending on the nature of the emergency and wishes of the system user.
Insist on Helping
Your parents have always been the ones to provide help and assistance to you, regardless of how old you are, so it is difficult for them to admit that the tables have turned and that they now need your help. You need to assure them that you’re there to offer support and that their health is your utmost concern.
Educate About Solutions
Being unaware of the service providers that are available means missing out on potentially lifesaving solutions. Until you need a home medical alert system, chances are you never gave it a thought. A home medical alert system allows your relative to age in place, something that is very important to many aging adults as it provides peace of mind 24 hours a day since they’ll know that when you’re not there assistance can be dispatched at the push of a button. Hiring a home healthcare aide is also something to consider if there are no relatives living close enough to stop by and help out at least once a week. Errands, grocery shopping, cooking meals and other such tasks can be taken care of by a professional home caregiver.
Prepare for Big Change
Because your parents have worked for years to put a roof over their family’s heads, home ownership is a source of pride and the idea of giving up all they’ve worked for can be a frustration. Coupled with the fact that downsizing is difficult and people typically want to hold onto cherished items, the idea of moving out of the family home and into a smaller one – or even an assisted living facility – is not a concept that your aging parents will likely embrace. Everyone wants to keep onto their homes and might be unaware of the options available to help them do that. Installing home medical alert equipment and enlisting the services of a home healthcare worker in cases where there are no family members that can take on the responsibility will offer the seniors in your life the much-appreciated option to age at home.
Being armed with these options and having the facts and figures at hand before you and your siblings approach your aging parents to discuss their plans as they age can help make informed decisions that will be in the best interests of all involved.