Many of us find that as our parent’s age, they’re more likely to need assistance to carry out everyday activities allowing them to safely remain in their homes. Caregivers sometimes consider moving the Elder into a family home or assisted living facility. This can be contrary to what the aging parent would like for themselves.
Life is a series of phases; childhood, young adult, middle- age, and old age. The phases at the beginning and end of life bring rapid changes and ideally these swift changes should be planned for prior to reaching them. Ideally, the care plan for your aging parents needs to be flexible enough to meet their evolving health care and daily living needs. Planning ahead for changes to cognitive and physical needs is preferred to reacting in a crisis. Doing so is very stressful for all involved and generally does not result in the best outcome for the Elder.
Most Elders want to stay as long as possible in their own home. Services are available to provide the support to meet that goal. Programs of All-Inclusive care for the Elderly (PACE), adult day health centers, home care, and transportation services for the elderly are good examples of resources for Elders. Take a realistic look at how your loved one is doing at home, what needs are not being met, and the services available in your community.
A good first step is researching programs or services available in a variety of settings. Families need to be as objective as possible regarding their parent’s abilities and ideally plan for both today and future care needs. Most adult children find it difficult to admit that their aging parent is not doing as well as they hoped. The family dynamic will most likely dictate whether the elder is participating in research services or at a later point in the planning.
Secondly, a family meeting involving all the members interested in participating in the care plan meeting insures that everyone caring for the aging parent is in agreement. This is a good time to define the rolls various family members will take the lead on. Also, take a look at any advanced directives (health care proxy, power of attorney, MOLST) and make sure they are up to date and reflective of the roles various family members will be undertaking. Of course, if the parent is able to assist with the decisions regarding their care, which is most likely if they are remaining at home, all of the decisions will need to be agreed to. Resources for potential care providers in the community include state and federal programs. Good sources include Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), local Aging Service Access Points (ASAP), your local Council on Aging and Veterans Agents.
The third and often most challenging part is reaching agreement between the adult children and aging parent to develop a working care plan. The change in family roles can be difficult for both parent and child. Ideally the care plan is flexible enough to evolve to meet any eventual care needs.
For more resources for caring for your aging parent: http://www.elderserviceplan.org/