Our visit was pleasant, my father, 86 years old, living independently in of his home, what could be better? Still as we drove away, I wondered if I was taking my father's wellness for granted. What might he be holding back with the best of fatherly intentions? It was time to apply my essential eldercare tips for adult children that I share with clients to my own situation.
Three Essential Eldercare Tips for Adult Children
- Observe your parent's day-to-day life
- Communicate with your parent and family members
- Plan ahead to meet future challenges
Eldercare Tip for Adult Children #1
Observe your parent's day-to-day life
Take a clear eyed look at how your parent is coping. It's a big transition from relying on your parent to being the person he relies on. It can be really difficult to know when is the right time to step in and help.
Are there any warning signs that you need to take a more active role in their day-to-day life? Look for changes in your parent's environment. Has a formerly neat house become messy? Has your parent's grooming slipped? Is there adequate fresh food in the kitchen? Has your parent gained or lost weight? Take a drive with your parent, is his driving safe? Make a list of any concerns.
Eldercare Tip for Adult Children #2
Communicate with your parent and family members
Do you really understand your parents' concerns and priorities as they age? What do they want if they need help with daily tasks? Will they hire a helper, move in with a family member or move to a senior community? Do your parents have enough income to pay daily expenses? How would they pay for long term care?
Take it slow when discussing sensitive subjects with your parents. Expect that it will take many conversations to understand your parent's opinions, desires and fears for the future. Make your conversation a true dialog by sharing your own opinions, desires and fears. Keep talking to your parent even when they have trouble listening to what you are saying. Old age, disability and financial problems are not topics that most people enjoy discussing. Your parents are no different from anyone else. You will need to be gently persistent in bring up difficult topics. Know that they are listening to you even when they don't appear to be.
Discuss eldercare for your parents with your spouse or partner. How might caring for your parents change your daily life? How will the demands of caregiving affect your career? Work towards an agreement of how your family will support your parents as they age.
Discuss caring for your parents with your siblings. Each of you has a unique perspective and relationship with your parent. What can each of you contribute? How can you balance caregiving responsibilities if some siblings live near your parents and others live further away? Prepare to work together as a family in a new way.
Eldercare Tip for Adult Children #3
Plan ahead to meet future challenges
Once you understand what your parent wants and what you and your siblings have to offer, you can begin planning. Taking all the information from communicating with your parents and the rest of your family, you can begin to change your parents' wishes and hopes for the future into reality.
It's not about rushing your parent into a change prematurely; it's about laying foundations for possible future challenges. As a result of speaking with your parent, you can research options that they are interested in, follow up on financial or legal planning that is needed.
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