Seeing parents through the aging process is one of the most uncomfortable periods in life that an adult child will face. No words can describe the emotions involved in watching the people who cared for you and kept you safe as a child morph into people in need of a similar type of care and safety.
But the aging process is relentless and affects both the parents and their adult children. If you are an adult who is now being forced to watch your parents grow older and less able to care for themselves, this information will help you better understand elder care and help you decide when your elderly parents may require this type of care option.
Physical health indicators
One of the easiest indications that some level of elder care is needed is when one or both older parents have health issues that limit their ability to take care of themselves or their home. For some of these elderly parents, the need for elder care may only be temporary, such as during the recovery period after joint replacement surgery or some other type of temporary health issue.
For other older parents, the use of elder care to help them deal with physical limitations may be permanently necessary. For instance, an aging parent who has developed one or more health issues that affect mobility or sight may need elder care ranging from daily in-home visits to round the clock live-in care arrangements.
Depending on the level of elder care needed, these skilled workers can assist clients who have mobility issues with daily hygiene, meal prep, wound care, therapy, and providing transportation to medical appointments, shopping, and other errands.
Mental health indicators
While the decision to begin utilizing some type of elder care arrangement is relatively easy to make during periods of recovery from surgery or when physical limitations develop that are expected to last indefinitely, it can be much more difficult to do so based on mental health indicators. Age-related dementia, depression, and substance abuse are just a few of the reasons that may force adult children to consider some type of elder care plan for one or both elderly parents.
Some of the signs that an elderly parent may be nearing the time when elder care is appropriate include:
- experiencing difficulties with medication management, including forgetting to take prescriptions and failing to follow medication directions
- experiencing increasing forgetfulness, especially if the forgetfulness could cause harm, such as forgetfulness when driving, using kitchen appliances, or being unable to remember how to reach their home
- experiencing memory lapses that lead to serious discomfort, such as when the utilities are shut off or the rent isn't paid due to forgetfulness
- experiencing lapses in the ability to remember people and places that should be familiar
Because some memory lapses and mental cognition issues can also be a result of mixing medications or dosage issues, adult children who see these types of issues developing in a parent should first speak with their parent's medical care providers.
Additionally, issues that may seem to be related to memory or mental decline may also be associated with depression, especially if the elderly parent has lost a spouse, has little social contact with friends or family, or is using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.
Adult children who live near their aging parents may be able to handle some of their parent's elder care needs. However, those who live away from the area or those who are already busy with their own families and careers may find that live-in elder care is the best option for their parents.
To learn more about elder care options in your area, contact an elder care service provider soon.