I Have to Take Care of My Mother and Father, What Do I Do?

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“I need help taking care of my elderly mother and father” is becoming an increasingly common phrase among adult children.

Do you know what to do with aging parents?

Are you looking for help with aging parents?

Do you know what staying home to take care of elderly parents looks like?

Becoming the primary caregiver may seem like one of the only options for elderly parents. However, there are many other alternatives when parents need help at home. 

Keep reading to learn about what to do when your elderly parents need help and how to get help for aging parents when you’re unable to care for them yourself.

What to Do When Your Elderly Parents Need Help

It can be challenging to know what to do when your aging parents need help at home, especially when you have other personal responsibilities.

Here are four things you can do when you realize that your aging loved ones need assistance.

1. Consider Your Parents’ Needs

Before making any major care decisions, it’s best to assess your parents’ needs and the situation they’re in. Taking a step back and observing what’s happening can help you understand the necessary level of care.

Some areas to focus on are:

  • Home safety: is your home or your parents’ home safe for them and free of any harm?
  • Medical needs: does your parent or set of parents have serious medical concerns or take medication regularly?
  • Cognitive health: is one or both of your parents experiencing a decline in mental health or showing any signs of dementia?
  • Personal hygiene and care: are your parents able to dress and feed themselves?
  • Social interaction: do your parents have a social outlet and an ability to get to social events?

By taking time to observe and record their behavior and abilities, you’ll have a better understanding of what your parents need.

2. Consider Your Parents’ Involvement

Elderly parents often find it difficult to admit they need help. It’s essential to communicate with your parents and involve them in the process. 

When you recognize that your parents could use assistance in a few areas, you can start dialoguing with them. 

For instance, let’s say you observe that your mother approaches driving very hesitantly. You could always say, “Mom, I noticed that you seem hesitant when you drive. Have you been in an accident recently or felt like your driving skill is declining?” Pointing out an observation and asking a question allows you to gain helpful information while making your parent feel more comfortable to share.

You’ll also want to consult with your parents before making any drastic changes like moving them into your home or providing them with an in-home caregiver. 

3. Consider Financial Situations

Your financial situation and your parents’ financial situation are both necessary to consider when approaching the topic of long-term care.

  • Do your elderly parents have the finances necessary to cover their expenses or care needs?
  • Do you know what to do with aging parents who have no money?
  • Do you, as an adult child, have the financial capability to take care of your elderly parents?

If your parents are in a good place financially, you may be able to use their resources to pay for their needs. If your parents are without adequate funds, the financial burden may fall on you or other family members.

Elder Care Benefits

Another aspect of financial situations is benefits, whether insurance- or tax-based. 

Do you know what insurance your parents have and what it covers?

Do you know the potential tax benefits for taking care of aging parents?

Insurance plans will vary, but common areas of coverage to look into are:

  • Medical prescriptions
  • Nursing home care
  • Home care and home health care
  • Medical equipment 
  • Medical supplies

Depending on your parents’ insurance or situation, some or all of these may be covered.

Additionally, there may be some tax deductions you can qualify for as a family caregiver. 

If you’re thinking about taking on the responsibility of caring for your parents, it’s a good idea to look into their insurance and your potential tax write-offs.

4. Consider Your Abilities

Lastly, it’s best to think about your ability to provide the care your parents need. You may feel that it’s your duty to care for your aging parents, but are you able to do so?

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you assess your role as a caregiver to your elderly parents:

  • Do I have the capacity to care for my aging parents?
  • Do I live close enough to my parents to visit as often as needed?
  • Would I want to live with my parents in their home or mine if necessary?
  • Is my relationship with my parents good enough that I can spend lots of time with them?
  • Do I have the patience to learn how to best care for them?
  • Can I provide a high level of hands-on care if necessary?

You may realize that you aren’t the best caregiving candidate for your parents, and that’s okay. There are other resources for caring for aging parents that you can pursue.

How to Get Help With Aging Parents

One of the best ways to get help with aging parents is through in-home care. In-home care provides many different care levels and options for elderly parents. With in-home care, your elderly parents can get the quality care they need in the comfort of their home. It’s also a great way to provide you with rest from primary caregiving.

Two of the top in-home care options are respite care and full-time care. 

In-home Respite Care

As an adult child assuming the role of a full-time caregiver, you can experience exhaustion and burnout. Adult children staying home to take care of elderly parents can use respite care to get personal downtime. 

With respite care, a caregiver will go directly to your parents’ home for a few hours to provide companionship and hands-on care. During this time, you can:

  • Rest
  • Go out with friends or a spouse
  • Run personal errands
  • Exercise

Ultimately, respite care provides a reprieve for family caregivers from the demands of full-time care. It allows you to get some time to care for yourself.

Full-time Care

There may come a time when aging parents need help in more ways than you can provide. At this stage, full-time in-home care is an excellent option. 

Full-time care, often called 24-hour care, provides aging loved ones assistance with life tasks during the day and night. During daytime hours, a caregiver will help with activities like:

  • Dressing
  • Feeding
  • Transportation
  • Cleaning and housekeeping
  • Meal preparation
  • Medication reminders

At night, another caregiver will come to stay overnight with your parents. This caregiver will be alert and awake, ready to assist your parents with:

  • Walking to/from the bathroom
  • Toileting
  • Safely getting in/out of bed
  • Getting water or a midnight snack

With full-time care, you’ll have peace of mind that your parents are receiving quality care at all hours.

What to Do With Aging Parents

It’s not always easy to know what to do or where to go to get help with aging parents. Many adult children find themselves in a situation thinking, “I have to take care of my mother and father. What do I do?” 

Before making any care decisions, assess your parents’ needs and financial situation. Dialogue and communicate with your parents while also considering your ability to care for your parents.

If you find yourself unable to provide the care your parents need, you can find help with aging parents through respite or full-time care.

Stowell Associates is a top provider of quality in-home care for elderly adults. When adult children don’t know what to do with aging parents, we do. Our Care Managers, Care Coaches, and in-home Caregivers are professionally-trained when it comes to caring for elderly parents at home: 

  • Care Managers: Registered nurses and master’s-level social workers who collaborate with adult children to create a customized care plan for aging parents. 
  • Caregivers: Put the personalized care plan into action in your parents’ home.
  • Care Coaches: Social workers who can guide and empower you to improve your loved one’s safety, enhance their quality of life, and ease your own burden.

Contact us today to talk with one of our Care Advisors. We’ll make sure you get the best care advice when you realize, “I need help taking care of my elderly mother and father.”

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