With a growing number of aging Americans, chances are you’ll be in charge of taking care of your aging parent. By 2050, the U.S. Census predicts that there will be more than 88 million Americans over the age of 65.
While taking care of an aging parent is part of life for most people, it can also be extremely challenging. From finding a trustworthy and caring nursing home to taking care of growing expenses, there’s a lot to do and even more to worry about.
Here are some of the 5 challenges of taking care of an aging parent and how to make them less of a problem.
- The Emotional Impact
Becoming the primary caregiver for another human being is a huge task. As a parent, you know what it’s like to raise a baby, but taking care of a grown human who is set in their ways is a whole other beast.
There is a huge emotional impact when the relationship with your parent changes from being the one who is cared for to becoming the caregiver. It’s a tough adjustment for everyone involved. You may experience a sense of loss as you may feel as if you’ve lost your source of guidance and support.
At the same time, your parent may find it hard to accept that they must now be cared for. These changes are difficult to process and to solve them, it’s in everyone’s best interest to communicate. Being open about your thoughts and feelings keeps your relationship grounded and centered.
- Home Safety
Most elderly people want to stay in their home. While taking care of your parent in a home that they’ve been in for years seems convenient, it can also be dangerous. Does your parent live in a two-story home? Are the rooms accessible in the event that your mother or father needs to use a wheelchair?
There are all sorts of worries when taking care of a parent in their home. Thankfully there are ways to senior-proof the home to make it safer. Start by rearranging furniture and getting rid of any clutter that may be a tripping risk. You’ll also want to eliminate the need for your aging parent to use the stairs. If necessary, having a stair lift installed in the home is the safest option.
- Increased Medications
One of the more expensive challenges in taking care of an aging parent is keeping up with the growing number of medications that they must take. From vitamins to medications for keeping chronic conditions under control, chances are that your aging parent has plenty of pills to take. With the growing number of medications comes an increase in cost. While health insurance and coverage like Medicaid can help to offset some of the costs, chances are that your aging loved one still has to pay some fees out of pocket.
For some, the cost of medications can be financially crippling. Some medications aren’t covered by insurance while others have grown exponentially in cost. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of money that’s spent on medication costs.
For example, if your loved one suffers from erectile dysfunction, you can look into Viagra discount coupons. Other options for saving on prescription medications include:
- Switching to generic
- Shopping around
- Asking for samples
- Use a patient-assistance program
Knowing how to save on money on prescriptions can make taking care of an aging parent a little easier.
- Talking About Tough Issues
Just as your parents had to have uncomfortable talks with you, this go around the tables are reversed. You’ll need to talk about preferred living arrangements, wills, and even common age-related health issues like forgetfulness and incontinence.
Approaching these topics can be tough, but knowing what to say and how to say it makes matters a little easier. Be willing to have many conversations about the same topic. Don’t push for immediate decisions, even if you have a preferred answer. Be open to your parent’s wishes and make them into reality if possible.
- Respecting Their Independence
Taking care of an aging parent while respecting their independence is a true balancing act. You want to know that your parent is safe and sound while also respecting their want to still be independent, even in their later years. Making your parent feel as if they can’t take care of themselves can upset them and make the realities of getting older even harder.
To respect your parent’s independence while helping to take care of them, find ways to boost their independence. Introduce them to medical alert monitors as well as telemedicine to allow them to have say in their daily health care. Hire a transportation service that can take your parent to local places to socialize.
As with any part of life, taking care of an aging parent is what you make of it. While it won’t be a cakewalk, there are things you can do in order to address the challenges to make things a little less hectic.