Adult children tend to be somewhere on a spectrum when it comes to coping with aging parents who are showing signs of needing senior care services and assistance. Some adult children do not want to see the signs and may be in denial that help is needed. Different children within the family may have different perspectives, based on their personalities and coping mechanisms as well as simple logistics such as how often they see the parents. Aging parents often “pull things together” to provide a good outward appearance for adult children visiting from out of town.
Other adult children may be beset with worry about their aging parents. This can lead to a lot of stress, especially if unsure of what to do to address those worries. At times, adult children may be worried more than is necessary or may take legitimate concerns to an extreme with protectiveness. While this approach may be meant well, it might backfire when adult parents feel they’re being treated as children. There is often disagreement between family members (the aging parents’ perspective as well as siblings) about the extent of concerns.
It is impossible to remove your feelings from the equation. So, how can you cope with aging parents’ care and needs in a balanced way? How can you make sure you’re doing enough but not be over anxious? How do you respect your parents’ dignity and freedom while ensuring they are safe? When do you know it is time to bring in senior care services? Here are some tips to coping with aging parents’ care needs and finding “the sweet spot” between denial and complete panic:
- Set out a plan for monitoring and ongoing evaluation. Plan regular phone calls and visits (and grab our Checklist for Long-Distance Caregivers Visits to plan out how to spend your time wisely). Regular visits will help you have a baseline for how your aging parents function and what is changing (everyone’s “norms” are different, such as level of cleanliness, activity, etc.). An in home caregiver visiting and helping out on a regular basis can provide you a lot of peace of mind, and add to your aging parent’s quality of life.
- Get some help to separate out your emotions from the situation. Consider consulting with an expert and getting a geriatric care management assessment. A professional not only sees things from a more neutral perspective but has expertise to spot concerns that you might not and make specific recommendations.
- Have a series of conversations with your aging parents, to delve in to your concerns, their wishes, and possible solutions. Don’t wait for a crisis.
- Arm yourself with knowledge. Read up on eldercare issues; topics such as how to evaluate the situation, communication tips and what local resources are available. If you know what is available to help, you will have solutions to suggest and feel more prepared. Our EasyLiving blog is a great place to start, with weekly posts on topics like paying for senior care, Florida home health agencies/options, Alzheimer’s disease and sundowners syndrome. You might want to check out our Senior Care Resources page for more links and educational materials.
- Think about questions and objections your aging parents will likely have. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about their concerns and emotions. Work on answers to address these, or just ways you can talk through them or approach things differently.
Start getting a handle on where things stand for your aging parents.
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