What Nobody Tells You About Caring For An Elderly Parent
It’ll take you by surprise the day your parents can no longer take care of themselves. You’ll start helping them out in tiny increments over the years, helping your dad run errands when he can’t drive far distances and accompanying your mom to doctor’s appointments in case she can’t understand all the information she is given. But you’ll never quite see the day coming when a parent needs to move in with you and become your full-time charge. It’s a very disorienting experience. First and foremost, you’re taking care of another being now, which maybe you weren’t before if you never had children or if your children moved out long ago. Second off, you’re seeing your parent in a whole new way. What you’re doing is very honorable, so you deserve some preparation. Here is what nobody tells you about taking care of an aging parent.
Your parent may resist
It’s very rare that an elderly person is ready to admit that they cannot take care of themselves anymore, so this big move may have some bitterness and resentment surround it, at first.
You may need to take over their finances
If and when your parent stops being of able mind, you may need to legally become responsible for their finances. This is not a comfortable conversation, but a lawyer who specializes in elderly affairs can help make it easier.
If you hire any nurses for additional help, go through a reputable company that only hires certified nurses who’ve undergone extensive screening. There are plenty of “private” nurses who are simply individuals looking to take advantage of the elderly, getting them to purchase the expensive gifts and convincing them to lend them money.
You need to watch their mail
Mail scammers (the kind that state, “If I can just transfer two million dollars into your account for one month…)target the elderly. Keep an eye on the mail that comes in for your parent.
And their email
The elderly are using technology now! And email scams can take your parent’s inbox by storm. Do what you can to monitor your parent’s incoming email.
Your marriage will take a backseat for a moment
If you are married, you’ll quickly find that things like date night, Sunday brunches and long evening cocktail hours come to a halt. It’s difficult to pay much attention to your romantic relationship when you are taking care of an elderly parent.
Ask for help so that you can have a life
You shouldn’t allow this change to ruin your marriage, though. So elicit help from friends and family and hire a nurse you trust so that you and your partner can have important alone time.
It will be very hard to see your parent need help
The role reversal will be extreme. You’ll suddenly be telling your parent, who took care of you for most of your life, what to do. You’ll see a person you once saw as very strong, as weak. Don’t judge yourself for the feelings that come with this change.
But you are still living with your parent again
While your parent will have his weak days, he’ll also have his strong days, and it will feel like you are a teenager again, living under your parent’s roof. This is your parent, after all, and he’ll never stop giving you his opinions on your life.
They will forget things
Your parent will ask you to do things you already did and to buy things you already bought. Try not to become frustrated with them because they probably just forgot.
They may criticize how you take care of them
Your parent isn’t going to love how you do everything, just the way you didn’t love how they did everything when you were growing up under their roof. You may not like their attitude since you are taking care of them but don’t forget all the attitude you gave them as a teen.
This is very hard for them
No matter how frustrating your parent is behaving, don’t forget about what their experiencing. They understand that this is probably one of the last time’s they’ll move. This is the final chapter of life, and many of their friends have passed. You cannot possibly imagine how that feels.
There is a balance of being there and not
There is a sweet spot of being available to your parent when he or she needs you, but not hovering over everything they do It takes some time to find that sweet spot, so have patience.
You get this special time together
At the end of the day, you get to spend quality time with your parent after probably having quite separate lives for decades. It’s special when you think about it.
Your parent may talk about death
Your parent may be accepting that the end of his life is near. He needs to talk about this, and his feelings around this. Don’t try to change the subject or brush over it, even if it’s hard for you to hear.
You will have to prepare for that event
You actually cannot brush over the subject of your parent’s final days because you will probably be greatly involved in the slow preparation of their will and estate.
You can shield them from some discussions, but not all
Think carefully about which discussions your parent needs to be involved in, and which he doesn’t. For example, he may not want to talk much about his own funeral, but he will want to talk about who receives what after he passes.
You’ll realize you’re lucky to have a parent this old
Just when you think you can’t stand your parent’s criticisms of you for another moment, you’ll remember how many friends of yours already lost their parents, and how lucky you are to have yours still.
This will eat into your inheritance, and that is odd
Money is a sensitive topic at this time. The reality is that, if your parent demands expensive nurses he has hand-selected, and wants them around all of the time, that will eat into what would have been your inheritance. It’s not a pretty subject, but it is a real one.
Your parent may not like the decisions you make
Your parent probably will not agree with every decision you make. From choosing the best doctor that will take your parent’s insurance to renovating the bedroom to be safe for them, but also to their liking, there will be a lot of choices to make.