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Did you know that over 54.1 million people are above 65 years old? This represents over 16% of the U.S. population, or one in every seven Americans. With such a large elderly population, it’s not surprising that more and more people are finding themselves in the role of caregiver for an aging parent.

While taking care of aging parents can be a fulfilling job, it can also be quite challenging. They may need help with basic tasks like bathing and dressing, or they may require more intensive care due to health concerns. And even if your parents are healthy, their needs will constantly change over time, and you’ll need to adjust your caregiving accordingly.

So what do you need to know to be a successful caregiver for an aging parent? Below are important things you should remember.

1. Prepare Your Parents Mentally and Emotionally

The first step is to have a conversation with your parents about their wishes and expectations. While this can be a difficult conversation, it’s an essential one. That’s because it will help you understand their needs and desires. 

It’s also vital to get your parents’ input on their care. This helps them feel like they’re still in control of their lives. During the conversation, ensure you talk about the below matters:

  • Their health and any changes they’ve noticed recently
  • Any medications they’re taking
  • Their living situation and whether they’re comfortable there
  • How much help they need with activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Whether they have a preference for in-home care, assisted living, or a nursing home
  • What their thoughts are about end-of-life care

After you’ve had this conversation, take some time to process everything. Once you understand your parent’s needs, you can start making plans for their care.

2. Prepare Yourself Financially

You may not have thought about it before, but taking care of the elderly can be expensive. From potential medical bills to in-home care costs, there are a lot of financial considerations to take into account. That’s why it’s so important to start preparing yourself financially as early as possible.

One way to do this is to start saving for retirement yourself. This will not only help you financially in the future, but it can also give you a sense of comfort knowing that you’re taking care of your own future while also helping to take care of your parents.

Another way to prepare yourself financially is to ensure you have adequate health insurance. This is especially important if you have aging parents who are on Medicare. While Medicare does cover a lot, it doesn’t cover everything.

Having supplemental health insurance can help fill the gaps and ensure that you’re not left with a huge medical bill.

3. Practice Self-Compassion and Self-Care

It is difficult to see our parents age and experience physical and cognitive decline. We want to do everything we can to help them, but it’s important not to forget about our own needs. Practicing self-compassion and self-care will help you be a better caregiver in the long run.

The best way to do this is by taking breaks when you can. When we’re taking care of someone else, it’s easy to forget to care for ourselves. Make sure to schedule some time for yourself every day, even if it’s just a few minutes.

You should also get support from others. It can be helpful to talk to friends or family members who are in similar situations. There are also support groups available for caregivers. Getting some emotional support will help you cope with the challenges of elderly care.

4. Understand Their Health Conditions

Do your research and learn everything about your parents’ health conditions. This way, you’ll be able to understand their needs better and how to best care for them. It’s also essential to stay up-to-date on their health so that you can catch any potential problems early.

Make sure to keep their doctor in the loop, and don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Caring for elderly parents can be a lot of work, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are plenty of resources out there to help you through this process.

5. Always Make Safety a Priority

The first step to caring for your aging parents is to make sure their home is safe. This means checking for trip hazards, making sure handrails are secure, and ensuring that there are no loose carpeting or floorboards. You should also install night lights in strategic locations and ensure the smoke detectors are working.

If your parent cannot live alone, you may need to consider finding an assisted living facility that can provide the right level of care. Any geriatric homecare service typically has staff on hand 24 hours a day to help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. They also provide security and supervision to help prevent falls and other accidents.

6. Organize for Safe Transportation

If you have elderly parents, it’s essential to think about how you will get them around. Many seniors can no longer drive, and public transportation may not be an option. That’s why it’s essential to plan ahead and figure out the best way to get your elderly parent from point A to point B.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when organizing transportation for your aging parent:

  • Make sure the car is in good working condition
  • If your elderly parent can’t drive, consider hiring a driver or signing up for a ride-sharing service
  • Research the best routes and schedules
  • Always have a backup plan in case of an emergency

Ensure your parent is comfortable with the transportation arrangements. This includes making sure they can get in and out of the car quickly.

7. Understand Their Insurance Coverage

You should also familiarize yourself with their health insurance coverage to know what is covered in case of an emergency.

If they are on Medicare, there are certain things that it does not cover, like long-term care. It is essential to know what their coverage includes so that you can be prepared financially in case of an unexpected health event.

Ask them about their coverage and if they have any supplemental insurance that covers things that Medicare does not. If they do not have any supplemental insurance, you may want to consider getting some for them. It can give you peace of mind knowing that their health is taken care of should something happen.

8. Consider Your Schedule

When taking care of aging parents, you’ll need to be able to juggle work, family, and your commitments while still being available for your parents. While this can be a challenge, it’s important to remember that your parents come first.

Talk to your employer about your situation and see if there is any flexibility regarding your hours or working from home. If you have siblings, see if they can pitch in and help take care of the house or cook dinner while you’re at your parents’ place.

9. Listen to Your Parents

The best way to take care of aging parents is to listen to them. As our parents grow older, it’s important to remember that they are the experts in their own lives. We may think we know what’s best for them, but ultimately, they are the ones who know themselves best.

That’s why it’s so important to have open communication with our parents as they age. It can be difficult to broach the subject of their declining health or changing needs, but it’s crucial that we do.

Only by talking to them openly and honestly can we understand their wishes and care for them the way they want to be cared for.

10. Always Include Your Parents in Different Family Activities

It’s challenging to juggle work, family, and taking care of aging parents. However, it’s important to include your parents in different family activities. This helps them feel like they’re still a part of the family unit, even if they cannot participate in every activity.

Below are some activities that your parents might enjoy:

  • Going for walks together
  • Doing puzzles or other games together
  • Watching movies together
  • Cooking meals together
  • Going out to eat together
  • Attending sporting events or concerts together

These are just a few ideas. The important thing is to spend time together and enjoy each other’s company. If you have siblings, involve them as well. Remember, it takes a village to care for aging parents.

Start Taking Care of Aging Parents Today

Taking care of aging parents can be a daunting task, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many resources are available to help you, including books, websites, support groups, and more.

If you’re unsure where to start, talk to your parents about their wishes and needs. They may have some ideas about how they would like to be cared for as they age. From there, you can begin to put a plan in place.

Don’t wait until an emergency arises to start caring for your parents. The best time to start is now.

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