There may come a day… you might have seen it coming for a while, or it might hit you out of the blue… when you suddenly realize that your parents are no longer as capable of living independently as they’d always been. This is not easy to digest – the parents that raised you, no longer able to completely look after themselves – is an unsettling realization. More than just a practical consideration, it usually triggers us to consider that our parents will not be here forever… and then as a natural segue, it’s also a reminder of our own mortality. Not easy thoughts – ones we’d usually rather avoid, but at the same time, unavoidable, because the practical implications for daily living and your parents’ safety and well-being are daunting but have to be faced.
Baby boomers, and anyone with aging parents, will most likely sooner or later find themselves needing to confront signs of their parents’ failing independence, resulting from age-related loss of functionality – physical or psychological – and the need to evaluate what to do about it. For many, the thought of an assisted living facility is a last resort, and the possibility of the parent coming to live with them is also only remotely feasible, if at all. And while to a certain point the adult children themselves can provide the extra care and handling their parents will now need… it can be very challenging. The demands of work and career, raising a family, and running a household often leave little extra space to take on more. And it also makes the whole situation of our parents’ new needs harder to look at … the impact it will have on us – a new added dimension of responsibility to weave into our already full lives. This is where a caregiver can compassionately and kindly help alleviate the burden on the adult children and ensure the parent’s safety and well-being, while allowing them to continue living in their own residence with maximum possible independence.
So how do you know when to consider caregiving as an option to helping your parents maintain as much freedom as possible while ensuring they are safe? … (With as much or as little help as that takes)? Here are some signs and clues to problems that could impair someone’s ability to completely manage on their own… and that you should be paying closer attention to how your parents are faring.
- Diminished hearing (Symptom: Your parents don’t always answer the phone or take a long time pick up when you call… even though they’d always answered with no problems before.)
- Diminished sight (Symptoms: Is your parent experiencing falls? Have you noticed a hesitance in his or her walk?
- Falls (Symptoms: Unexplained bruises, often accompanied by explanations for cuts, bruises, or broken bones that don’t ring true)
- Incontinence (Symptoms: Clothing stains; odors emanating from furniture, clothing, or automobile seats)
- Self Neglect (Symptoms: Poor eating habits and inadequate nutrition/hydration; failure or inability to follow through on physician’s instructions, medicine dosages, etc.)
Of course, if you do determine that perhaps your parents need extra care, how do you bring that about? We’ll start by directing you to a link that takes a look at how to approach the subject with your parents, how to conduct a family discussion on the topic, and more…