Here is a short video by Michael Simpson as he talks about the five tips that will help you answer the question “How do you cope with aging parents?”
Above all you must have a plan, if you just jump into the muddy waters of aging you will end up in a fight with the very people you want to help, your parents. Be gentle, be friendly and go slow. Do not, if possible try to check off all these tips in a single visit with them. It will come off as too confrontational and as a power grab.
Please watch the video and leave me your comments.
Tip #1 – The Plan.
This must start with reassuring your parents that you are sensitive to their desires and their need to be a major part of the decision making process when it comes to their future. You must assure them that you are there for them and you can be depended upon to help them solve their problems.
Restate the importance of the leadership, guidance and family coaching that they have provided over the years and how you and your children have benefited from such great parenting. Remember, sucking up to Mom and Dad doesn’t hurt. Stress that they have built a strong family and that they will now benefit from those family bonds which they created.
Tip #2 Educate Yourself.
You, and your parents if able, must become information sponges. You need to lead the way using the awesome power of the internet and simple questioning techniques to uncover specialists in areas relevant to their changing situation. This is just a short list and as you proceed you will uncover more resources and of course have more questions.
Legal matters, including wills (where are they and are they up to date) and property ownership. Not just “real” property but personal as well. Do they have gold, silver, other precious metals or gems? Does Dad still have all those hand guns in the house? This could be a serious issue for your parents or maybe a caregiver.
Financial arrangements. Any promissory notes or other contracts?
Health care resources. Do you have a list of their doctors and medications they are taking?
Housing, now and future. Are they maintaining their house or is maintenance being overlooked? Should you be looking for a caregiver to come in a few times a week and have you checked out assisted living facilities?
Are you up to speed on the aging process?
Tip #3 – Take Stock.
As health and living problems arise, obtain an assessment of your parent’s problems and needs. This could be done by a medical professional, a geriatric consultation team or a social worker. You can also be involved by being observant as to your parents mobility and cognitive ability. If they are still driving then look at their car and their garage. Are there dents in the fenders or bumpers that were not there last month. Document it with you cell phone camera for proving your case later on.
Tip #4 – Help Them Retain Control
Respect your parents need to make their own decisions and remain in control of their lives. Limits on independence are often placed on the elderly due to a fall or illness. If neither of these are a determining factor then go easy. Just don’t walk in and inform them that they are not going to drive any longer as you grab their car keys and leave the house…not smart.
Avoid making hasty decisions, just because they bumped into the dining room table don’t exile them to a nursing home.
Tip#5 – Share The Work
Share the emotional, physical and financial heavy lifting with family members and even friends. If someone offers to take Mom to the crocheting club then PLEASE do not be a martyr and say Oh No, I will take her. Mom just might enjoy being around someone besides you. And you will really enjoy the break too.
Use friends (yours and theirs), volunteer organizations, family members, church resources and whoever you can to lighten the load, you will be glad you did. Also check out the local caregiver agencies in your city. They can be very affordable and the needed pressure relief valve you need when you want a long weekend “away”.