Many older people need some help and support, especially if they live well into their 80s or 90s and beyond. Family members often have to step in to provide this support. Very few people transition from being fully independent to deceased without an intervening period where they require assistance.
Sometimes support can be quite simple and come in the form of help with transportation or household chores. In other cases, especially when health is compromised, more support may be necessary. Here are five issues that tend to come up when helping elderly parents.
- Medical and health issues
Many older adults have chronic conditions that require them to take medications and they often need supervision to make sure they’re taking them correctly.
They may need evaluation for conditions that appear to be developing. They may also need help with recovering from illness or even lose their ability to oversee their own medical care and need help making medical decisions.
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- Daily living issues
Older adults often need help with daily living, including home maintenance, meal preparation, transportation, and shopping. How much assistance they need on a daily basis will often determine what kind of care arrangements or living arrangements the family needs to consider.
Where an older person lives can have a significant impact on the quality of life. Sometimes a more supportive environment may be necessary, such as moving in with a family member. An assisted living option can be a good solution if the finances are available.
- Legal and financial issues
Some older adults lose their ability to manage their financial or legal affairs. Even those who are not cognitively challenged may become targets of scammers due to their lack of familiarity with advanced technology.
Family members need to carefully consider how much help may be needed with financial and legal issues. Planning ahead and filling in the proper paperwork can help for family members to give assistance if it becomes necessary.
- Safety issues
Older adults are more likely to suffer injuries from falls. It is important to make sure that various safety precautions are taken around the home to help prevent falls, such as installing grab bars in the bathroom or lights in dark areas. It is important to equip bathtubs with non-slip surfaces and make sure all rugs, mats and runners are slip-resistant.
For those who have fallen before or who are afraid of falling, there are special alarms that can be worn as a bracelet or necklace. If a parent falls and cannot get to a phone, he or she can simply push a button on the alarm that alerts emergency services.
- Self-care issues
Helping an elderly parent can be rewarding but it can also cause a great deal of stress. When caregivers neglect self-care due to being so busy, this can not only jeopardize their own health but affect their ability to care for their older parents.
Joining a support group, setting boundaries, asking other family members and friends for help as well as allotting time to relax can help caregivers to cope with stress. Learning strategies to organize and prioritize can also help to free up some time.