How can you help to care for your ageing parent(s) whilst they are still in their home? With changes to aged care legislation due to take effect in July 2014, the Government as part of the changes will be offering improved support and care at home for the elderly. There are however steps you can take to share the load with your family to assist your parent(s).
- Prepare in advance. Usually, the problems associated with ageing don’t come on all at once. Your mother or father will gradually lose the ability to function. When this starts to happen, take action. Don’t wait until the last minute, as you will be left with less choice and long waiting lists. Encourage your parents to have their wills drafted. Get a power of attorney so that you can make decisions, if needed. Create a master document with a list of important accounts, account numbers, and passwords. It only takes a little work to gather these things when your parents are healthy, and they can save a lot of headache later on.
- Define roles and share the load. It’s easy for one family member to become resentful if they think they are doing all of the work. At the same time, not everyone can (or should) help in the same way. For instance one child could take care of appointments and paperwork. Another child may organize the routine chores to be taken care of, and another may help with meals and keeping an eye on your parent(s). If your family works together to draw on each person’s strengths, it’s easier to help your aging parent.
- Advocate loudly. Nobody cares more about your family’s situation than you do. There are doctors, case managers and social workers to assist, but ultimately it’s up to you to act and research on behalf of your parents. Be assertive, because no one will care and act on behalf of your parents as much as you do.
- Check for resources. No matter what your situation, there are resources to help. But you may have to spend hours — or days — looking until you find the help you need. Ask around and check websites. Even if you don’t want (or don’t qualify for) government help, these places can point you to private parties that can help.
- Communicate. Your ageing parent(s) can wreak havoc on family dynamics. Siblings need constant, clear and transparent communication. It’s hard to get your head around your parent is no longer looking out for you, roles are reversed and you need to be there and look after them.
We remember our parent(s) the way they used to be and want them like that again. The reality is, they will only deteriorate and need more help and assistance over time. Working together as a family, and doing what is best for our parent(s) is our ultimate goal, so it’s never too early to take those initial steps to care for you parent(s) whilst they are still at home.
If you need further assistance please call Jennifer Brosnan at Leave it with me, an admin and support service for seniors, helping you to help those you love.