A Different Kind of Special Needs
Every day a whole new group of adult children realize they are caring for their aging parents. Each of their caregiving roles has its own set of special challenges as they struggle to react to the unique and changing needs of their parent.
Some of their parents have recoverable injuries, and the caregiving role will be short and rewarding. Other parents have been diagnosed with a chronic illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, so their needs will increase over years and possibly decades.
Nobody is prepared for this role. Even trained professionals find themselves confused (at a loss) when it’s their own parent. After all, we still see our parents as our providers and protectors. But the roles are reversing.
When they raised us, they knew we would “grow out of it.” But as they age, their abilities will decline and their dependence on others will increase. In fact, their needs will become more unique as time goes by.
Success Can Happen
In order to be successful in this role, the adult child must accept the inevitable that their fear and concern will drive them to assist their parent along this final passage. How the journey goes will depend on their ability to identify the proper ways to provide care for their parent’s unique and changing needs.
This is a delicate situation for the adult child – if they push too hard, they may anger and alienate their parent. If they don’t persist, everyone may end avoiding the situation with no action taken.
Listening Improves Outcomes
The most important thing you as an adult child can do is to learn how to listen to your parent. This needs to be more on the lines of how a friend listens – not the typical parent-child banter.
Once you feel you are ready to really listen, start by understanding their wishes, desires, and fears. To ignore these will make everything else a struggle. But to embrace them will ease the effort.
Planning Reduces Strain
Once a parent’s wishes are understood, planning should begin. The parent’s legal and financial state of affairs should be evaluated and updated based on their desires. This includes things such as the medical care they wish to receive to who will manage their finances if they can’t.
Almost everyone wants to stay in their own home through end of life. Most homes, however, don’t meet the needs of people with unique and changing needs. The good news is there are professionals who can help prepare the home for an aging parent. Overall, the cost of modifying will be far less than the cost of an assisted living community.
There are many things that can and should be done to ease the journey of caring for an aging parent. Start by being a friend and get the conversation started. If your parent has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, then you should do these 5 things now.
Have you found yourself caring for you parent? Please share your strategies for being successful in this role below in our comments area or join a chat in our Forum under “Aging”.