When we are caring for elderly parents, one of the options available to us includes our senior parents moving in with us, or vice versa. Each set of grandparents lived with my parents the last few months of their lives. I followed their example when my senior parents moved in with me six months before my dad passed away. My senior mom has continued to live with me for about seven years. It's been a good arrangement, with blessings and rewards for both of us.
It's not without its challenges, though, including dealing with memories that aren't as great as they used to be. I'm not referring to Alzheimers Disease or other dementia symptoms. Just the normal forgetfulness that becomes a bit more prevalent as we age.
My senior mom and I have found having a few tricks and habits up our sleeves can definitely help. Like:
Having an electric stove with a light that glows when the burner is still hot and getting in the habit of checking for that light routinely when in the kitchen to be sure everything is really turned off. (If you don't have that feature, add it to your "what to look for when I get a new stove" checklist.)
Always check all your doors before going to bed to be sure they are indeed locked. Depending on how your senior parent is doing, calling and reminding them to check the doors each night when you are traveling out of the area can also be wise.
Find an easy-for-you system for taking the medications so they don't get forgotten. We frequently use the alarm clock on my cell phone to help us with short-term needs. Another family member has one of the little plastic pill organizers for day to day medications. When it's a severe illness requiring many medications, the old-fashioned way of writing it all down on a chart and checking it off can work great.
It's also important to monitor how forgetful your senior parent is. One good system is to keep a monthly diary. Alz.org has an excellent 10-point checklist of what to watch for. Keeping that in your computer and reading through it every few months, along with writing in notes that are applicable can help you monitor their memory, as well as other areas of concern. The nice thing is, most of the time you'll end up relieved they are doing fine. But, if they are progressing, you will be on top of it.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution to caring for elderly parents. But finding simple solutions like these that work for you can be a big stress reliever for both your aging parent and yourself.
P.S Here's the link for the 10 Signs of Alzheimer's from the Alzheimer's Association
Kaye Swain is a member of the Sandwich Generation dealing with the issues of caring for the elderly parents and relatives in her family while also babysitting grandchildren. She enjoys writing on those topics at SandwichINK, in order to provide other multigenerational caregivers with useful information, resources and encouragement.