Over the last few years, I’ve watched countless friends, college classmates and colleagues navigate through the maze of medical care for their aging parents. Some were aware of their parents’ ailments and could respond to their needs with ease. Others were plunged into a complete fog as they had very little knowledge of the medical challenges their parents faced. Only after sorting through medical bills, insurance notices and medications were they able to understand the extent of their medical needs.
These days, many of us are caught in a role reversal. Adult children have to step in and take care of their parents in way they never did before and it is a T.A.D. bit different. Here are a few ways to strike a delicate balance:
Treat Your Parent with Dignity and Respect
Our parents have always cared for and about us our whole life. Suddenly, we see them struggle with simple everyday tasks. Remember they also have to adjust to their own limitations. This can be difficult for them to accept. They are struggling with a loss of independence and may lash out at you in an unexpected manner. Take a step back and think about all the years they were tasked with caring for you and exercised patience. Give them the space they need at this time in their lives to adjust to dramatic changes.
Assemble a Team and Pace Yourself (You cannot do this alone.)
There is always one sibling that stands out as the primary caregiver when it comes to caring for aging parents. This does not mean you should carry the entire load. Delegate where you can. Establish a plan of care and organize a schedule with a list of roles and responsibilities. One of my friends was fortunate to have 10 siblings. They each committed to being home for a week with their mom to take care of her. The oldest sister was the primary caregiver. The support of the siblings not only allowed her to manage the care, but also get a much needed break, especially since she had to care for her own family. More importantly, each sibling had one on one time with mom.
Discern the Cost of Care
Aging parents with health challenges may wish to stay at home in a familiar place or circumstances require them to move in with their children. There is a cost associated with both options and you need to comprehend the full picture. Look into Medicare and/or Medicaid coverage your parents secured to ensure it is aligned with their needs. Establish a care budget. If there are out of pocket expenses you cannot cover, look for outside resources from family members or professional organizations dedicated to seniors.
Parents are such an integral part of our life and caring for them can be overwhelming for everyone. Take a T.A.D. bit of time to pull together a plan that allows you to walk through this journey with ease.