So many individuals feel overwhelmed due to caring for their children and their parents at the same time. This is what is commonly referred to as being in a “Sandwich generation”. Meaning that caring for both your kids and your parents is like being sandwiched between both generations. It is difficult to navigate parenting in general but adding the care of your parents is overwhelming. In addition, it is likely that your parents may not listen to your advice as they would like to practice their own self-determination. However, the problem becomes even more difficult when you realize that your parent is no longer able to practice self-determination. At this point, you may need a map to navigate the different needs of your parents as senior services can be difficult to access and understand.
Although caregiving naturally comes with stressors, the realization that your parent who might have once been as energetic as a young toddler can no longer do things on their own. It can bring up wide range of emotions such as sadness, fear, and worry. The more intensive the need of your loved one, the higher the caregiver stress. The term caregiver stress is related to the physical, mental, emotional, impacts of being the primary caregiver of your loved one. As your parent ages it is important to prioritize safety. You should ask yourself the following question:
Is my parent able to complete his or her activities of daily living independently?
You might be asking yourself what does that mean? It means your parent may be unable to do the following on their own:
- Get dressed
- Hold utensils to eat
- Buy groceries
- Turn off needed appliances
So for a second think about how that can impact someone’s life; without these basic things they are unable to function and their safety is in jeopardy. At this point it is important to make some difficult decisions. It may be the time to put them in an assisted living facility or to hire 24 hour home care services. However, doing this is easier said than done. For example, in South Florida there are many home care services, how would you know where to start. Also, there are various facilities for aging individuals, how do you know which one is the best for you.
There are often initial warning signs that you should be aware of to know that your parents’ ability care for themselves is becoming impaired.
- Cognitive Change i.e. forgetfulness, disorientation
- Physical Weakness i.e. unable to carry things
- Self-Neglect i.e. not cleaning themselves or the home, wears the same clothes everyday, hoarding, medication mis-management
- Weight loss
- Difficulty Driving i.e increase in accidents
- More frequent falls i.e. may start minor but worsens overtime
- Unknown cuts or bruises
- Acting strange overall
- Symptoms of depression i.e. hopelessness, sadness, irritability, withdrawal
- Bills are not getting paid i.e may be the beginning of an impaired decision making ability
- Lack of care for overall health i.e misses doctors appointments, does not take medication
Given that caring for your aging family member is probably not the only thing you have to do it may be necessary to hire a geriatric care manager to help you. What is a geriatric care manager? It is a trained professional who will assess the needs and wishes of your aging parent and will assist you in coordinating ALL the care of your parent. Here are some examples of what a care manager does:
- Accompany client to key doctor visits
- Routine home visits to ensure all doctor’s orders are followed
- Act as a community liaison between client and local community resources
- Assist with the transition to an Assisted Living Facility
- Advocacy during hospitalization and assistance with implementation of the discharge plan
- Access mental health needed services
- Ensures that providers are delivering effective and efficient care
- Notify families to ensure proper communication
- Coordinate care related to memory disorders
Basically, a care manager will do all the leg work of the care of your loved one. They will make all the phone calls that you cannot seem to fit in your busy day. They will coordinate for all the needed services so you do not have to deal with the research of the availability and cost of services. Most importantly, they will help you feel supported through the maze of caring for your aging parent.
Address the Issue Early
When we say address the issue early, we really mean as early as possible. We are aware that sometimes life happens and before you know it your parent’s ability has significantly become impaired. However, if you are not there yet, and you feel that your parents are still in a place where you can talk to them about their aging; DO IT. Having open communication about aging is extremely important. It is also important to plan for the future, have things in place as a preventative measure rather than having to react in the face of a crisis. As we all know, aging is a natural part of life. We may want to think that it is not going to happen to our parents because they are in good health and very energetic now, but they will age, and they may need more assistance one day. Remember as we get older our ability to fight off infections is not the same or our cognitive ability deteriorates. So what was once a small problem may not be so easy to overcome as we get older.
Take Away Tips
Facing the aging of our parents is hard, I mean they took care of us for so much of our life that we probably didn’t realize that we might have to care for them too. With that being said here are some tips to take away:
- Do not ignore the signs
- Plan early
- Ask for help
- Hire a care manager
- Always think of safety
- Take Care of Yourself
For more information visit https://rkcaregroup.com/.