You may have thought this day would never come, but you know that it has. It’s role reversal day. And now it is time to start taking on the responsibility for the health and well being of your parent.
Once you have discovered that those weekly visits or even daily phone calls are not enough, you will will need to develop a plan of action. You will have some very important decisions to make, not only for your aging parent but for yourself as well. In many cases you are not alone in life; you have a family, siblings and/or a career to include in the equation. Hopefully by following these simple steps, you will be able to decide what will be best for both of you without the frustration, guilt or shame that often comes with this type of life event.
Here is a step by step guide to help you through the beginning phase of caring for your aging parent:
- Have a family meeting. Invite all of those that will be responsible for or affected by the decisions that need to be made on behalf of your parent. Also, decide who will be the primary go-to person in regard to the needs of your parent. But first and foremost really listen to what your parent has to say when it comes to their wants and needs.
- Meet with their primary health care provider. Some parents may not be as forthcoming as others when it comes to their health, health problems and care needed. But even if your parent is, meeting with their Doctor will give you even more insight into the level of care required
- Call their Insurance Company and Financial Advisor. Finding out if and how much the insurance provider covers for home health care will help you know how much personal assets will be required to cover the cost of care.
- Decide the level of care needed at the moment. Perhaps to begin with your parent just needs some assistance with grocery shopping and errands, or getting the mail. These tasks may be done by a close friend, neighbor or relative, at least for a while. But perhaps they need more intensive help with preparing and serving meals, cleaning, laundry, personal hygiene, taking care of pets, etc. It’s really best in the long run to look into professional service providers for many of these tasks. All too often well meaning friends, neighbors or family members will eventually fail to come through when the responsibilities are long term.
- Interview Home Health Care workers. After you have found a reputable company that provides home health care workers, you will want to meet with them personally to be sure you and your parent are comfortable with their background, experience and personality.
- Monitor the workers. In the beginning, you will need to keep very close tabs on both your parent and the health care workers to make sure there are no misunderstandings, disagreements, falling outs, or God forbid abuse, and if there are, that they are handled quickly and appropriately.
- Stay positive and reassuring. Make no mistake, this will be a difficult journey for you all. When a parent loses their ability to be self sufficient, it is rarely an easy transition for them. Adjusting to this new lifestyle will take time for your parent so be understanding. Keeping a positive attitude and reassuring your parent that you only have their best interests at heart will help make the transition a lot easier on them.
As time goes on, situations and needs will change. When the time comes, go back through the steps and readjust the provisions as needed. Just as it was when you were young and being cared for by your parent, the most important thing to do is express your love and gratitude by spending quality time together as often as possible.
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