I’m Not Getting Older But My Parents Are
One day you wake up and realize that many activities and decisions are harder for your parents to manage. Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday you were talking to them and everything seemed great but now you find yourself having to manage many aspects of their daily lives.
So how will you manage your own life and find the time to gather resources and evaluate different options regarding the medical, legal and financial matters relating to your parents and their living situation? In this article we will suggest tips and resources to assist you as you move forward in your journey of being the adult child of aging parents.
Signs you shouldn’t ignore.
While your parents may seem mentally sharp, they are not as physically able to do the many daily tasks they once were able to do. You may talk to them on the phone and it appears that everything seems OK but they are not letting on to how difficult it has become to climb the stairs, drive, and manage the household chores. For many aging seniors there is an increased inability to recall short-term memory and the simple tasks of daily living they are not able to do, or forget to complete. As we age many of these things occur slowly over time but as many reach their 80’s and 90’s it is more apparent with the lack of other ways to compensate. All of us want to be independent in our care as long as we can but there comes a time when assistance may be needed but many find it hard to accept this or ask for help. Make sure as your parents are getting older you’re in tune with what they may be experiencing physically and emotionally. Make sure to take the time to look over their home for limitations such as multiple stairs or a shower they can’t get in and out of with ease as well as other signs of an unkempt house.
Aside from their physical condition, keep in mind their mental status as well. Depression is not uncommon as people age due to loss, and isolation.
Additional signs to watch out for are:
• There’s a lack of or no participation in activities they were once interested in.
• They are missing appointments, not filling prescriptions or even taking their medicine.
• Personal hygiene has changed.
Tips you’ll want to consider.
If you start to see some of the warning signs previously mentioned, such as a change in personal hygiene or a lack of appetite, you want to assure that they have a full physical by their primary care physician or a geriatric physician. By establishing a relationship with a medical professional sooner, they’ll be able to notice the slightest change in your loved one’s mental or physical well-being. Also, in regards to health, it is important to make a brief chronological medical record to help you keep up-to-date on health circumstances and medications they take on a regular basis.
Additional tips you want to consider are:
• Maintain an accurate medications list.
• Pay attention to subtle changes that may indicate your loved one needs assistance.
• Check your loved one’s mail, financial statements and call logs for unusual activity.
Resources you may need.
It can be overwhelming to think about the process of aging in regards to your parents and how to go about finding the support you and they might need in the future. There are many resources that you can use to stay abreast of the aging experience. While seeking additional resources, it’s good to keep in mind that while there is a vast amount of information on the Internet, literature cannot take the place of a good relationship with a primary care physician, attorney or an elder care professional. A good thing to use the Internet for is to prepare questions regarding a concern that you have and to also find information regarding communities you may be considering for your loved one (i.e. hospitals, home care companies, continuing care retirement communities, active adult and assisted living communities).
Some websites you may want to gather information from are:
• National Association of Professional Organizers – www.napo.net
• American Association of Daily Money Managers – www.aadmm.org
• National Association of Senior Move Managers – www.nasmm.org
• National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers – www.caremanager.org
• Alzheimer’s Association – www.alz.org
• ALS Association – www.alsa.org
• National Association of Elder Law Attorneys – www.naela.org
Again, be sure to look into resources and develop those relationships sooner rather than later. A crisis can occur at any time and at any age when we least expect it. Be proactive about the aging of your loved ones. Have discussions with them and find out if they have a living will or trusts. Do you know the password to their computer or know where they are doing their banking? Do they have a safety deposit box? Do they want to consider setting up a power of attorney with you and make copies of documents for you to keep on file? It will benefit your entire family to be more prepared. While you may think that you’re not getting older and your loved ones are, your day will come and this information will be useful in helping you prepare as well.