It’s role reversal day. You may have thought this day would never come, but you know that it has. Unfortunately you discover those weekly visits or even daily phone calls are not enough anymore. Your parent needs real hands on care. You now have to make important decisions, not only for yourself but for your aging parent as well. You need to decide what will be best for both you you, without changing life too dramatically. In many cases you are not alone in life; you have a family and/or career to think about as well. How do you keep up and try to please others around you?
The first thing you need to remember is that is not entirely about you. What I mean is that don’t be swayed by guilt or what others say is “the right thing to do” but rather determine “what’s best” for your parent, first and foremost. Elderly parents change, and sometimes we want to hang on to who they used to be. You must remember they are no longer the caregiver but rather they are in need of a lot more care and attention. This is often a very difficult concept for them to accept.
The type of care they will probably need will include making sure they are eating well, keeping themselves and their homes clean, taking medication if necessary, caring for pets, and even making sure they are not being financially swindled by predators. If you have siblings, you will probably need to discuss many issues with them as well. You may even disagree with the type of care is required, be it a facility or in home care. Perhaps they can’t or won’t even help you with all of the responsibilities. How do you deal with this type of scenario without alienating anyone?
In the beginning, it may be as simple as having an In Home Health Aide come visit a couple of times a week to help with making meals, showering or even getting dressed. Much like a parent that has an infant, safety should be everyone’s utmost concern.
It will probably take some time and a lot of energy to discover all of the care options available to you and your parent, but it will be well worth it as elder care can stretch into many years to come. Try to discuss as much with them as possible without overwhelming them. This includes their health, medical, financial and physical needs before the day comes when final decisions have to be made.
Make an appoint to speak with their Doctor. Take time to discuss the health issues your beloved parent is facing now. Check with their local hospital as most hospitals have an elder care support group of some kind. Check with their insurance company as well. Some will also offer suggestions in regard to caring for the elderly. After consulting with their Doctor, support groups and insurance group, you should have a better idea as to what type of care and living situation your parent now requires and what options are available. Don’t be afraid to revisit this suggestion as time goes on in order to maintain the best overall situation for everyone.
Just as when you were young, the best thing your parent could give you was their time. Now that the roles are reversed, the best thing you can give your parent is your time. Spend as much stress free, quality time with them as you can. If they are still fairly mobile, you could even have them over for the day instead of always going to visit them.
Ultimately it will be the mutual love and respect you both share that makes those later years a wonderful memory for both of you.