Watching our parents get older is a surreal experience, especially if you can see them no longer able to take care of themselves or approaching what will be the end of their lives. As uncomfortable and unwelcome as this part of life is, there are some serious matters to take into consideration to make this part of their life not only better for them, but for you as well. Here are some things to take into consideration if you have aging parents.
1. Signs of a Stroke or Heart Attack: The elderly can be at higher risk for stroke or heart attack. Here are some signs you can recognize and call for help as soon as possible:
○ Uncomfortable pressure, pain or squeezing in the center of the chest.
○ Shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness or breaking out in cold sweats
○ Discomfort in the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach
○ Unusual fatigue
2. When Additional Help is Needed: Here are some ways to know when your parent may need to start receiving additional assistance in their older age:
○ Exhibiting poor judgement
○ Repeating themselves often
○ Forgetting the current month or year
○ Difficulty managing their finances
○ Home is dangerous to them perhaps they have recently fallen or hurt themselves.
○ Problem remember appointments, commitments or other lapses of memory.
3. Where to Live: Should the decision be made that your parent is no longer able to care for themselves, it is important to already have established where they would like to live. They could live at home with home care services, as listed below, with a family member who will care for them or in senior citizen homes where they can be cared for.
4. Home Care Services: Whether in their own home or in the home of a family member, your parents can receive home care services if they do not wish to live in a nursing home. A home care center, such as this one, can offer skilled nursing care, infusion therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy. This can alleviate pressure and stress as you all professionals to help care for your parent.
Supporting hand from kind doctor for the elderly woman.
5. All Legal Matters in Order : Establish durable power of attorney. This gives someone else the ability to act on their behalf in case of mental or physical incapacitation. This can range anywhere from health care decisions to financial decisions.
6. Finances in Order: This may include a will or a living trust. A will allocates money and possessions to those listed. A living trust gives someone else the ability to make financial decisions involving assets in case of death or incapacitation.
7. End of Life Wishes: Would they like to be kept on a feeding tube and ventilator if they are in an irreversible coma? Should CPR be done on them should they stop breathing and their heart stops? Are any of these decisions affected by the presence of a terminal illness?
8. Funeral Arrangements: Though this is something we do not like to think about, at some point it will be necessary to plan their funeral. Talk with them about what their wishes are as far as what is involved, who they would like to speak and how they would like it to be done. Some prefer a celebration of life rather than a mourning, while others prefer a more somber occasion. It is also good to know if there are any funds being saved to cover these often high costs.
9. Understanding of Medicine and Treatments: If they regularly visit the doctor or are taking medications for any reason, it is a good idea to have someone else aware of these things. It is also good to make sure your parent understands why they are being given these medications and treatments.
10. Spend Quality Time: As you watch your parents age, you likely become more and more aware of the time that is slipping away. Be sure to spending quality time with your parents, as much as possible. Ask them questions about their life, record their thoughts and wisdom and deepen your relationship with them. Often, elderly people feel lonely, as everyone’s lives progress. Make sure they still feel wanted and valued. By having these conversations and knowing how to best address these topics, you will help make it possible to more fully enjoy your parents as they age, confident that you can help care for them and their wishes are being fulfilled.
Guest post by author Alyssa Craig.