Common Mistakes To Avoid When Taking Care Of A Parent Aging In Place

Nobody likes to see their loving parents grow old, weak, and helpless as they age. But that is a natural process to prepare for. According to some experts, in America alone, the senior age population (65 years and above) is growing rapidly, with the trend expected to continue. That means more and more families will face the difficult task of caring for their aging parents at some point. 

Therefore it is vital to ensure that you equip yourself with all essential information about offering the right care for your aging parent. And this includes knowing the common mistakes you need to avoid. Doing this will help ensure that you prevent or (at least) minimize any form of emotional trauma or the stress associated with providing this kind of care. So, are you concerned about taking on the delicate responsibility of caring for your aging parent? Here are some mistakes you need to avoid. 

Assuming that all end-of-life document and finances are in order

If you’re preparing to take care of your aging parents, you should be ready to handle their finances as well as all their essential end-of-life documents. However, assuming that your aging parents have all their papers in order will be a huge mistake. There are few basic things you should ensure that you cover. First, you should do your best to keep your aging parent’s finances from hackers and scammers. Secondly, ensure that you have the full details of the kind of healthcare their insurance covers. 

Also, find out if your parents have their will written and up to date. If your parents have insurance, will the payments be covered even after their death? Next, ensure that you have an updated power of attorney to all essential documents. That will make it possible to not only carry out every crucial financial obligation and decisions on behalf of your parent but will also make it possible to access all their health records when you need to. Finally, find out if your parents are in debt and how much. If you fail to take the responsibility of tackling all their financial documents while they still have a sound mind, you may end up with huge debts and bills to pay off.

Attempting to take care of everything

No matter how dearly you love your aging parents or want the best care for them, attempting to take care of all their needs on your own is a huge mistake. Whether you are a professional caregiver or someone that just stumbled into the responsibility, it is crucial to admit that you cannot handle everything by yourself. Be realistic about what the limits of your strengths are, and ask for help whenever you can. The last thing you want to do is end up with caregiver burnout, which happens when you push your physical or health limitations when caring for your aging parent. That is especially the case when you try to combine an already busy personal schedule with the demands of caring for your parents daily. 

Here are some of the symptoms of caregiver burnout to look out for; fatigue and exhaustion, inability to attend to your personal needs, high state of anxiety, constant stress, inability to relax, feeling of hopelessness, getting irritable with the one you’re caring for, etc. Caregiver burnout makes it impossible to provide adequate care. The logic here is pretty simple; if you cannot take care of yourself, you cannot take care of anyone else. Therefore, to avoid caregiver burnout, ask for help as often as you can. Also, delegate some responsibilities to other members of your family or even trusted neighbors and friends, and always take good care of your health.

Not considering professional help

Flowing from our previous point of avoiding caregiver burnout, another mistake to avoid is failing to consider professional help. Even if your parents may not see the need, there are quite a number of options available to seek help from. There may be instances where you’re the only person available for your aging parent – no other family relations, no other friends, neighbors, or loved ones. The responsibilities in such a situation can be very overburdening. 

Fortunately, there are options available to help you with the burden of care. Please take a look at this resource on how to create a professional palliative care support services.

For example, you can rely on professional caregivers who can visit your aging parents at home or even move in with them to provide the help they need while you focus on other areas of your life. Yes, this option may come at an extra cost, but it will be more than worth it both for you and your parents. Also, a professional caregiver is an essential option to have if your aging parents have certain health conditions that require constant expert care. Because most professional caregivers have a wealth of experience in the healthcare sector, they will be able to offer professional care, following all the doctor’s prescriptions and directions. That is because they may be better placed to better understand certain health conditions than you do and offer better care. That will prevent you from making certain mistakes that may prove fatal.

Excluding parents when making decisions

From all the points made so far, it may sound like you’re taking complete control over your parents’ life, but that’s another mistake you need to avoid. At the end of the day, as long as your aging parents remain of sound mind, it is best to involve them in every decision you want to take concerning their care. Aside from the fact that you may make some mistakes when you fail to include your aging parents in decisions concerning them, you may also risk hurting their feelings when they find out. 

Even more, neglecting to include them can also lead to resentments and their refusal to cooperate. This situation can also degenerate further into emotional clashes when you become frustrated about your parent’s lack of cooperation. Another reason why it is a huge mistake not to include your aging parents in your decision making is the fact that you may never know if they already have their own plans in place. Therefore, it is crucial to always take the time to speak heartfeltly and in earnest to your parents. Slowly cover all important subject areas that have to do with their health and finances and ensure that you’re all on the same page. 

Failing to consider the long-term

One thing you should avoid doing, no matter how desperate you may feel, is rushing through your decisions without looking at the long-term ramifications. For example, there is always the tendency for emotions to sour due to severe illness or accidents with your parents. Such situations may force you to make hasty decisions on the spot without stopping to look at the future consequences. You may end up only creating more problems for yourself and your aging parents if you fail to plan slowly. 

Take the time to consider all foreseeable possibilities before making any decision concerning health and life. In addition to that, don’t shy away from having those uncomfortable discussions. For example, even if your parents have opted to age in place, take the time to make other options available to them to find out if they might reconsider. If there is any chance that your aging parents may consider moving in with you, take the time to plan accordingly. Otherwise, you may find yourself taking extra duties you may not be ready for, which can cause a lot of stress and frustration in the future.

Not being up-to-date with their health

It is next to impossible to offer any care if you’re not up-to-date with any health issue your aging parents may be battling with, as this is essential in ensuring that you provide the right care. Therefore, you must be available as often as possible to every doctor’s appointment. Take the time to understand everything their doctor says about their health, the kind of treatment they need at home, their medications, as well as future appointments. Even if you choose to seek a home nurse or professional caregiver’s help, it is essential to know your parents’ exact health condition. 

Aside from helping you provide better care, this knowledge will also help both of you make better decisions about the future. You can do a few things when it comes to being up-to-date with your parent’s health. First, copy and save all their relevant medical information in your notebook, and ensure that you carry this along for any doctor’s appointment. Secondly, write notes of everything their doctor says during such appointments, and keep up-to-date medical prescriptions or medications. Finally, take the time to learn as much as you can on your own about your aging parent’s medical condition. Doing this should help you become more proactive with the kind of care you give. Additionally, when you understand their health condition, you will be better placed to know what other resources may be available to you to deliver the right care.

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