Taking care of an aging parent can be a positive and rewarding experience. However, if you live out of town, have a demanding job, or care for a busy family, it can be overwhelming. Whether you organize paperwork and pay bills, make a weekly phone call to check in, or provide 24-hour hands-on care; in some way you are supporting a loved one, and that takes time, dedication, and compassion.
Taking care of an aging parent can be a positive and rewarding experience. However, if you live out of town, have a demanding job, or care for a busy family, it can be overwhelming.
Below are seven tips to consider when caring for an aging parent, provided by Ann Sutton Burke, Jewish Family Service Director of Aging and Caregiver Services. Jewish Family Service is an AgeWell Cincinnati provider.
Start Discussions Early: Important discussions are best handled sooner. It is vital to have these conversations while they are in good health. If a time comes when they are unable to make certain decisions for themselves, it will be easier to follow their wishes when you already know what they want.
Include Other Family Members: If other family members are around, be sure to include them. Conversations and decisions can be easier if you are not trying to make them alone.
Understand Your Parents’ Need to Control Their Lives: Your parents have the right to make their own decisions. It might be a balancing act between their independence and their safety, but try to let them maintain a sense of control over their lives.
Be sure to treat your parents with respect as they age. Continue to reassure them that you are there to support them as they get older and start to experience difficulties.
Agree to Disagree: Everyone will not always agree 100 percent of the time, but arguing about a problem will not solve anything. Sometimes the best solution will be to agree to disagree, as long as their health and safety are not being jeopardized.
Ask about Records and Documentation: Keep notes on where your parents keep important documents. If this is a difficult conversation, try asking them where they keep this important information and whom you should contact in case of an accident or emergency.
Treat Them with Respect: Be sure to treat your parents with respect as they age. Continue to reassure them that you are there to support them as they get older and start to experience difficulties.
Reevaluate if Things Are Not Working Well: If conversations with your parents are not productive, it could be time to reevaluate what you are doing. Maybe you do not have enough information for them, or your ideas are not coming across as you thought they were. Take a moment to look over what you have been doing to see where you can make changes.
AgeWell Cincinnati can help you navigate the challenges of caring for an aging parent. Our providers offer more than 60 programs and services geared toward helping older adults and their caregivers live healthy and enjoyable lives. With one call, you will have access to credentialed resource experts, who will connect you to the resources you and your family need.