The ultimate guide to parenting an elderly parent in care

Many of us reach a point in life where we need to go on a journey that is as challenging as it is rewarding – parenting an elderly parent in care.

It’s a role reversal that none of us are truly prepared for, but with empathy, patience, and the right knowledge, you can navigate this path with grace and love. It’s almost a reminder of Jacques’ ‘Seven Ages of Man’ monologue in Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It.’

If you’re in this situation, you may be feeling a mix of guilt, concern, and uncertainty. Remember, these feelings are normal. You are not alone in this.

Building a strong support system

The first step is to establish a strong support system. This means, seeking the support of siblings, connecting with others in similar situations, seeking professional advice, and understanding the resources available to you and your parent. If you are overwhelmed and need to make sense of things, consider joining local support groups or online forums where you can listen to the experiences of others and learn more from their experiences.

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to this point; while it can be difficult to adjust to this idea at first, be assured that it gets easier with time. You are stronger and way more resilient than you think. Everyone experiences this process differently; some are extremely overwhelmed, whereas others have a very positive and stress-free experience.

Choosing the right care facility

Now, if you want to make your life a million times easier, you’ll take your time finding the right new home for your parent. When considering a care facility, prioritize your parent’s needs and preferences. You have to remember that while this process might be challenging for you, it will be extra intense for your parent.

So, visit multiple facilities, such as Vivant living, talk to the staff, and observe the environment. It’s not just about the amenities; it’s about the warmth and care provided by the people there. Your parent should feel comfortable, respected, and at home. They should be able to see themselves there. If your gut tells you that something is off, then cross it off the list and move on to the next place. 

Staying involved and informed

Once your parent is settled in a facility, stay actively involved in their care. Take time to check in with them daily at a routine time, like every morning or every evening. Regular visits, participation in care meetings, and open communication with caregivers are very important. This not only ensures your parent’s well-being but also strengthens your bond with them.

When you do come over for a visit, find out if you can bring them anything they might need or would enjoy. Perhaps a new book or something sweet. This will help them realize that while they might be in a new environment, nothing has changed the dynamic of your relationship and that you really care. 

Managing health and medical needs

Managing your parent’s health can be challenging, as we all know that age brings uncertainty. It’s really important to have a clear understanding of their medical history, current conditions, and medication regimen.

Work closely with their healthcare providers to stay informed about their health status and any changes in their care plan. Also, when you check in with them, ask how they’re feeling and if anything is bothering them. That way, you can proactively identify if something might be wrong.

Adapting to changing health needs

As your parent ages, their health needs will evolve. Be prepared to adapt and respond to these changes. This might include learning about and acquiring used medical equipment to aid in their care. Or changes needed in their diet or exercise regime that you can help encourage.

By keeping a positive can-do attitude, you’ll be able to positively influence your parent to keep their chin up and focus on dealing with whatever setback or challenge they might face. 

Navigating financial and legal matters

Understanding and managing the financial and legal aspects of elder care can be one of the biggest sources of stress for many people. Care facilities aren’t cheap, and in many cases, elderly parents don’t have their own financial means to support themselves during this time.

So it is really important to have a good understanding of their financial situation and what they might need to live off. This includes insurance, care, and any other financial resources. Consider seeking advice from a financial planner or elder law attorney to navigate these complex matters effectively.

Similarly, if your parent is in a care home, it is a sign of aging, and it might be necessary to speak to them about estate planning. It’s vital to plan for your parent’s future needs. This includes discussing and documenting their end-of-life wishes, understanding their preferences for medical interventions, and ensuring that all legal documents, such as wills and advanced directives, are in place.

Communicating effectively

Effective communication with your elderly parent is key. Listen to their concerns, fears, and desires. Be patient and empathetic when you talk to them. Remember, they might be struggling with the loss of independence and the reality of aging. You being there and listening to them will be one of their biggest needs. Your understanding and reassurance can make a massive difference in their emotional well-being.

Creating joyful moments

Despite the challenges, there are many opportunities to create joyful and meaningful moments with your parent. When you visit them, take time to give them your full attention.

Take time to reminisce about the old days and entertain the conversation they want to have. Also, try to engage in activities they enjoy, like going out to breakfast or playing bridge. Take time to make new memories. These moments are precious and help to maintain a strong, loving connection.

Taking care of yourself

Finally, remember to take care of yourself. Supporting an elderly parent in care is demanding, and you cannot pour from an empty cup. Make time for yourself, pursue activities that rejuvenate you, and find help when you need it. Your well-being is crucial to being supportive and loving to your parent.

In closing, parenting an elderly parent in care is a deep experience that comes with its unique set of challenges and rewards. By staying informed and involved, you can make this journey a fulfilling and loving one for both you and your parent. Remember, you’re not just caring for them; you’re honoring their life and the love they’ve given you throughout the years.