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how to care for aging parents

As we get older, the realities of having to support our parents due to failing health are something many people face.

Recent statistics have shown that while 62% of women share they take on up to 20 hours of unpaid care work, 38% of men take on the same responsibilities for aging relatives.

The onus for familial care ultimately depends on the family dynamics and support available for certain health conditions and illnesses. For some, this could be a gradual transition from supporting parents over time as their health and physical abilities change; others could be thrust into a care role due to sudden onset of medical conditions or accidents. Regardless of why your parents may need your help and care, you should never forget that as their carer, you too need that support.

Being able to provide the level of care needed and meet expectations depends on how prepared you are and other responsibilities you have.

How Much Can You Reasonably Give?

Be honest with yourself and others about how much care you can give before the burden becomes too much. Conditions such as Alzheimer's and dementia can often mean your parents will need more professional and medical support that you are not able to give. Discussing the next steps with their medical provider and discussing your options fully will allow you to get a better idea of exactly how much care they will need over time.

Overcommitting yourself, so you potentially resent your parents for being in this situation, won't help anyone. Being open about your level of commitment to providing care from the beginning will allow you to put a better system in place for everyone.

Medical Care

If your parent(s) will need ongoing medical treatment at home, you should make sure you understand exactly what this entails and any training you may need. If they have medical support frequenting them at home, too, then they can provide any care, equipment, and treatments. 

Whatever the situation, it will be a good idea to have a full medical kit at home with spare parts and medical equipment such as bandages, syringes, batteries for medical equipment, a coloplast speedicath, and other medical items relating to their care and treatment.

Finances

If possible, when taking over care of your elderly parents, knowing the state of their finances is vital if they cannot manage their own finances for the long term or short term. It could be you need to arrange a power of attorney due to certain medical conditions, so you have the capacity to make any important decisions for them.

Caregiving Assistance

Know your options for sharing the caregiving duties with regards to support from other family members, support services, or paid for services privately. Utilize services such as in-home care, respite care temporarily, or even looking for volunteer care services in your local area to support you when times get hard or you need to step away for any amount of time.

Caring for elderly parents with health conditions can be time-consuming and emotionally draining. Allowing yourself to step back and assess your options will ease the stress from yourself and help you make sure your parents are getting the best continuous care.

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