As our parents get older, their roles are reversed with those of their children. Once they reach adulthood, young people need to take care of those who gave them life. Aging parents brings a number of additional worries for children. Health problems, whether physical or mental, financial resource management, social life, isolation, and parental safety must be handled with great patience. Here is a caring for aging parents checklist that can help you step in, assist, and take care of the elderly in any situation.
Create a senior-friendly home
Whether your parents will live in the same house as you or they prefer to live alone, it’s important that the living space is adapted to their needs. These changes, whether small or large, will save you a lot of hassle. Therefore, it is important that this space is as well organized as possible, without things like unnecessary pieces of furniture and long, wired cables on the floor, especially if the elderly have mobility problems.
You should also:
- Repair broken pipes, faucets that no longer work properly, and any other maintenance.
- Add slip-prevention flooring in the entryway, inside the home, and throughout the bathroom.
- If necessary, store medications and vitamins out of sight in a high cabinet or drawer.
- Repair uneven or cracked areas on the walkway towards the entrance of the
- Increase lighting, especially nightlights, all around the house.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or alarms.
- Set the hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees.
- Personalize their space by adding photos, books, or any other objects that are really meaningful to them. Aging people recreate their life's meaning by being connected to the past and it helps them maintain their psychological well-being.
In these ways, you will make their daily activities more accessible. Of course, the changes that need to be made in the house differ from one case to another, but it is necessary that the living space does not prevent the proper development of the older person's activity.
Make sure they have an active lifestyle
Even if they can't make much effort, it is important that older people have at least one activity that takes them out of their daily monotony and keeps them active. Depending on their health, choose an activity that does not require too much from them.
For example, encourage them to:- play golf or tennis
- join group walks in the park
- go out for a picnic with their friends
- spend time fishing
- attend sporting events and take part in them (if their health allows it)
- try a new hobby, like bird watching
- attend dance classes
- join a book club
These activities help them get out of the house and socialize and, in addition to the health benefits, the elderly will be in a better mood.
The most common health problems in the elderly are those related to bones. Back, hands, or leg aches occur when bones lose their strength and mass. You can find more information and tips here on how to help your elderly parents maintain healthy and strong bones.
Keep your elderly parents’ papers organized
The following documents are some of the most important records that you need in almost any medical or financial situation:- birth certificate
- marriage certificate
- divorce decree
- citizenship papers
- death certificate of a spouse or parent
- power(s) of attorney (for medical and finance decisions)
- deeds to properties
- deeds to cemetery plots
- military discharge papers
- insurance policies
- pension benefits
Also consider making some authenticated copies of the documents as unpredicted situations may occur. It’s up to you if you’d like to keep the documents at your own home or with your parents, but remember that they should be well-organized, in a safe place such as a safe deposit box or a fire-proof safe, and accessible for whenever you have to use them.
Stay informed about their health and medical needs
Taking care of elderly parents also means being aware of their health needs and problems, especially if they’re experiencing Alzheimer’s or other symptoms of dementia, or struggling with physical disabilities. In this case, your checklist should also include:- regular visits to the doctor
- making sure they don’t miss annual check-ups and tests
- checking if they’re taking their medications
- close monitoring by a physician
Medical documents that are important when applying for benefits or in case of medical urgency:- Health care proxy or power of attorney
- Authorization to release health care information
- Living will (health care directive)
- Personal medical history
- Insurance card (such benefits are offered by Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
- Long-term care insurance policy
- Emergency information sheet
Protect your seniors from scams
The elderly are often victims of deceptions, being extremely easy prey to con-artists. According to the FBI, the most common elder fraud schemes are:
Romance scams – the scammers pose as being interested in a romantic relationship. They can be found on social media and various websites.
Tech support scam – they pretend to be tech support for computers via email or telephone and the scammer gains access to the victims’ devices and sensitive information.
Family/caregiver scam – poses as a relative who is in trouble and needs money.
Remember that seniors are vulnerable and trusting. Having your aging parents’ passwords written down and frequently checking their credit card and bank account statements are crucial for ensuring their safety.
Legal and financial issues
Financial information is essential for more efficient and affordable caregiving. According to the Family and Medical Leave act, an employee can take “a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness”. You can find more information here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/fmla.
Take advantage of tax breaks. Many healthcare costs are tax deductible including:- acquiring a hospital bed or wheelchair
- expenses not covered by health insurance
- remodeling your seniors’ home to make it more accessible
Ask for help
When you live far away from your family, maybe even in another country, it’s difficult for you to always be in contact with them and even more so to intervene quickly when a problem arises. The situation becomes even more complicated if the elderly face health problems.
In these situations, it's helpful to use home care services. They are personalized medical solutions, with access to 24/7 counseling, and step-by-step professional assistance to ensure that the elderly receive all the help they need.
Take care of your aging parents without losing yourself
In order to be able to deal honorably with your aging parents, you need to learn to become the decision-maker, to understand their world and the value of time (which is sensitive and different from yours), and listen to their problems. These things can become challenging to accomplish when you also have a full-time job, kids to take care of, friends to spend time with, and hobbies to do. These tips below can help you deal with your seniors without hassle and live your personal life too:
Don’t abandon your interests
Taking care of your elderly parents doesn’t mean that you have to neglect your personal life. It’s important to maintain your mental health and that’s why you need to find a balance. Meet your friends, spend time with your family, and go to events.
Another thing you can do is share your passions and interests with your elderly. Tell them about your hobbies and keep them up to date with your accomplishments and the latest “news” regarding your friends. This way they won’t feel left out.
Keep in touch with your relatives
The truth is that things can become overwhelming and inevitably stressful. In order to take care of the elderly and give them the necessary attention, you need someone to offer you a helping hand. Don’t be afraid to talk to your siblings, cousins, or other family members about the situation and ask them to help you. You can create a schedule together and agree on the days when each of you has to visit them or do their shopping.
See a therapist
Seeing your parents aging, sometimes behaving like children, and being in constant need of help can make you feel anxious and sad. Helping an older parent is indeed rewarding but can easily become a source of chronic stress. Talking about your feelings and thoughts can help you feel more comfortable with the situation you’re going through, control your emotions, and understand them better.
Establish some boundaries
You’re not a superhero, and you can’t really do everything. That’s why establishing boundaries and learning how to say “no” is vital so you can continue enjoying your personal life and keep up with this responsibility.
Having a caring for aging parents checklist will help you offer your seniors all the help they need. Whether it’s about making some changes in the house, special monitoring at home or time spent together, they’ll be grateful to you for the simple fact that you have made their daily life easier, allowing them to age happily.