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Aging Parents: Taking Care of Mom and Dad

By Edited Apr 19, 2016 0 0

Are you one of the many adult children of aging parents? If so, you probably share my fears about their ability for independent living, and it could be causing you to lose sleep or worry incessantly.

After all, it is a rare occasion when our senior parents rejoice at the thought of moving from their lifetime residence into a residential living community or nursing care facility. However, there are ways to overcome the challenges of taking care of your aging parents in the home setting without making them mad or damaging your relationship with them. 

Learning to Overcome the Challenges of Taking Cake of Aging Parents Can Unite Families
Credit: Photostock, royalty free license, via Free Digital Photos, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2125

Aging Parents and the Risk of Independent Living

No one likes to face the thought of growing old and having to give up their independence and ability to control their own lives and make their own choices about where they will live, what they will eat and so forth.  However, as the loving children of these seniors, it is easy for us to see the dangers and risks inherent when your mom or dad want to go on living in their own home without someone to help them when necessary.

Probably one of the worst fears is the thought of your mom or dad getting hurt or falling and being unable to reach someone who can help them. You may have already observed problems such as moodiness, depression, anger or loneliness, and these issues are exacerbated  when a husband or wife has predeceased the other person.

Next, since their homes are typically older residences, the bathrooms, doorways and halls may not accommodate assistive devices such as wheelchairs or walkers. Remodeling these areas may not be possible or it could be cost prohibitive. Finally, there is the financial aspect of home maintenance, mortgage payments, and monthly living expenses to consider.  

Pros of Allowing Seniors to Live Independently

Should you try to convince your aging parents to move to some sort of assisted care or nursing facility or should you try to figure out a way for them to continue living independently in their home? After all, many people have nightmares about being in a nursing home.

Research shows there are several crucial reasons to keep your parents in their lifelong home if possible because they will be healthier and have better mental attitudes about life in general.  They can maintain their current relationships, which gives them a network of understanding folks who can give them help or support when needed.

In addition, many times these same individuals are more than willing to check up on our parents occasionally to make sure they are eating properly and taking care of themselves. Being able to do yard work, own a dog, cat or other pet, or grow a few flowers or vegetables in containers or a garden patch improves their mental and physical health and attitude.

Being able to have a pet is one advantage of helping aging parents live independently
Credit: Ambro, royalty free license, via Free Digital Photo, http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1499

Overcoming the Disadvantages of Senior Independent Living

Would you like partner with them to keep them with their home? There are many simple ways to meet their needs while allowing them to continue to live on their own.  For instance, relatives, friends or even church members or former colleagues may be willing to help with some of the routine maintenance chores involved in the upkeep of a house such as mowing the lawn, weeding or trimming hedges, or making minor home repairs such as repairing gutters or broken windows. On the other hand, many individuals find a high school student eager to earn some extra spending money who is willing to do yard work or some light housework.

Making small repairs in a timely manner can prevent small annoyances from becoming major, expensive repair jobs in the future . These may seem like small things, but they all add up to creating a home that is a safe living environment. As a plus, this saves money on the overall home ownership costs, which could be extremely important to our parents who are living on a fixed income.

Tips for Choosing a Nursing Home

Partnering With Aging Parents to Make a Workable Plan

What is the most tactful way to collaborate with your aging parents to reduce their living expenses so they can continue to live independently? Do they still make mortgages payments? What is the remaining amount on the mortgage?

With today’s incredibly low interest rates, simply refinancing the loan could lower their monthly payment significantly and increase their net income. By doing this, it could make better sense for them to continue to live independently than to move to a more expensive alternative such as an assisted living community or facility or even some sort of nursing facility.

Consider contacting the local utilities companies to see if they offer any assistance programs for senior citizens or budget programs that would allow you to budget a fixed monthly amount for utilities. If your folks have any outstanding debt obligations, there may also be assistance programs for seniors to help consolidate these bills into one lower monthly amount.

If you are the one who is responsible for taking care of their finances, consider online banking. This way you can handle the banking and bill paying chores remotely, but you can print out a hard copy that you can review with them monthly or as necessary. This is an easy way to have an open, transparent relationship about finances, and it also gives you a reason to visit them regularly without them thinking that you are checking up on them unnecessarily.

By utilizing the resources they already have with any financial aid or help that may be available, you can probably cut your parents' living expenses into a manageable monthly amount. Your next step is to help them set up a budget if they do not already have one. Any budget should be predicated on allowing them to live on their retirement income, social security, and any other income sources they have.

As a backup plan, consider investigating other options such as home nurses, a quality nursing home,  or home care. Resources like these give you the peace of mind that you need to feel good about letting your aging parents continue to live independently while knowing that they have access to quality health care and assistance.

If there is ever an emergency, you know that they are safe until you can reach them personally. Take it from me; this is a huge relief if you live some distance from them and cannot get to them in a matter of just a few minutes. 

Agencies and organizations that offer these types of services are typically state licensed and therefore subject to the specific laws and guidelines of the licensing state. While most screen and vet their employees very carefully and completely, you do want to be responsible for doing your own due diligence and checking them out yourself.

Living Happily Ever After With Your Aging Parents

There is an easy way to make all this work and be a pleasing arrangement for you and your aging parents. All you have to do is approach them in a loving manner and tell them that your goal is to keep them in their beloved home for as long as it is safe and feasible for them.

Ask them to partner with you in the effort and tell them how much you will need their help to make this a successful project. When you show them how much you love them and how important it is to you to help them be independent for as long as they possibly can, there is little reason for them to resist your efforts.



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