Ah, the empty nest. Your teenagers have moved out of the house. You have time to take a yoga class, have lunch with a friend, or learn a new hobby-until Dad moves in with you because he can no longer live alone. Caring for aging parents is tough, no matter how much you love them.
Looking after elderly parents can be even tougher when Dad isn’t cooperative. And even though he’s a cranky old man, he’s your cranky old man-and it’s your job to find an elder care solution that works for him. Here are 3 common elder care support problems and how to overcome them:
Failure to take medications is one of the leading reasons seniors are admitted to nursing homes. To avoid nursing home elder care solutions and keep Mom at home longer, you’ll need to make sure she takes prescribed medications.
First, recognize there might be valid reasons Mom refuses to take her pills: sickening side effects, interactions with other prescription meds, cost concerns, forgetfulness, or dementia. Experts also say there’s another possibility-Mom may be rebelling against the reversal in roles. This woman, who spent a lifetime caring for her own children, is now being compelled to take medicine in the same manner as a 2-year-old toddler.
When you’re caring for aging parents, one way to overcome the medication meltdown is to allow her to feel some control over the situation. For example, give her a choice of what sort of snack or drink she takes with her pills. Other experts suggest a reward system. For instance, you might suggest, “Mom, you can watch your TV show after you take the pills.”
Cultural or generational beliefs actually prevent some elderly from sharing important health information or concerns with family and doctors. While mom’s ability to suffer in silence might qualify her for sainthood, it won’t do a thing to relieve discomfort, prolong life, or create elder care solutions.
If you’re caring for aging parents who are silent sufferers, the family will need to don its Sherlock Holmes hats to monitor her care. Be aware of little changes in behavior or appearance. Are Dad’s clothes starting to hang from his already thin frame? Is his grocery list made up of a few nutritionally-void bagels and cans of soda? When was the last time Mom changed the litter box? Noticing small but important changes will help you plan the right elder care solutions.
One of the biggest battles many adult children who are caring for an aging parent face is talking to a parent about giving up a driver’s license. Whether Mom can no longer see when there’s a glare or your dad asks passengers to help him judge distances, you’ll need to act to keep your parent-and fellow drivers-safe.
Some experts recommend staging an intervention. During this meeting, family, friends, and health care professionals can share concerns with your parent, as well as facts about how his or her driving performance has deteriorated. In serious situations, you may need to report your parent to the local Department of Motor Vehicles.
Caring for aging parents can be challenging, especially when you find that you need to parent your parent. With patience, a little bit of detective work, and compassionate intervention, you can make your elder care solutions more manageable.