The problem with aging is that it is unpredictable – no-one knows exactly what to expect. Everyone ages differently and this makes it very difficult to plan ahead. Changes can be sudden or gradual but they are inevitable.
Although aging isn’t necessarily a linear process, there is a fairly predictable pattern that can help you to understand what to expect.
Your parents don’t need help
This is the stage when you call your parents and they can’t come and visit because they have so much on their agenda or they’re preparing to travel to another country. You need to enjoy this stage as it won’t last.
At this stage, you may suggest downsizing if they haven’t thought about this already. Get to know their neighbors and friends as you may need their help down the line. It may be hard to bring it up but this is the time when your parents have to think about estate planning.
Your parents need help but don’t think they do
At this point, you may become concerned because you notice some mental or physical changes in your parents. Perhaps they are starting to forget things or battling to maintain the house like they used to.
It is often very difficult for them to accept that they need ‘outside’ help. You may be helping them and they accept this, but they don’t want you to hire anyone because they value their independence.
At this stage, you need patience. You can help them make some changes to improve safety and help them to live in their home for longer. AARP offers tips in their guides such as adding grab trails, improving lighting and removing tripping hazards. But you must also start anticipating the next level of care and have conversations with them to get them thinking about it too.
Your parents accept limited help
Only you will know if and when they really need help and you may have to insist that they accept it. At this stage, you may be able to get a neighbor or friend who lives close by to pop in daily to check up on them or hire someone to come in for a few hours a day to help them.
Start researching your options to see what’s available. It’s sometimes difficult to find help for a few hours because agencies often have minimum hour requirements.
Your parents need daily help and they have it
You’ve realized you can’t cope with the situation and you’ve managed to hire a company, like Tandem Careplanning, that offers excellent in-home care. You feel a great sense of relief, knowing that the caregivers are carefully selected according to the highest standards. You have been able to plan shifts and decide what activities the caregivers should perform.
Your parents have adapted to the new routine and it’s working out well. The care team is keeping you up-to-date on the well-being of your parents.
You know that they have help in areas where they need it, like prepping meals, shopping, remembering medication and maintaining basic hygiene. You also know that as their care needs change, the team will assist you in transitioning care.
Your parents need medical help
The need for medical help is often a turning point for someone who wanted to stay at home. When one of your parents needs medical help, this goes beyond the point where you can use many home care services.
It usually requires skilled nursing services to manage medication, give injections etc. and finding a place that offers such services is often necessary.