On NBC’s TODAY Show ,Meredith Vieira highlighted an important topic for every mother, daughter, father, and son. Caring for an aging parent is far from easy and there are more than 65 million family caregivers in the United States. Psychologist Dale Atkins and AARP‘s Amy Goyer offer advice on navigating and coping during what can often be a stressful and difficult time.
Your parents are always your parents.
Help your parents maintain their dignity and independence. They are your parents even at a point when the roles are reversed and they need your guidance and support. Seek their opinions and have conversations with them to understand their wants and needs. Help them to match what you need for yourself as well. It can be challenging to handle the changing relationship as you transform these roles. Dale’s book may be a helpful resource as you go through this: I’m Okay, You’re My Parents.
It is most important to have conversations about caregiving and their wishes as they age, before it gets to a critical point or crisis. Discuss issues and options while your parents are able to express their desires and needs. Talk about issues such as elder care (home health care, assisted living, etc.), end-of-life issues, financial issues, knowledge of who their medical team is, emergency contacts, power of attorney, etc. Have these difficult conversations. Keep it organized and clearly defined.
Many are turning to geriatric care managers to help oversee and coordinate one’s total health care.
As a caregiver, remember to take care of yourself as well.
Keep in mind the importance of your health and well-being so that you have the strength and ability to care for others. Have a team in place so that you are not the only one–whether a sister or brother, a friend or neighbor. If you need additional support, there are caregiving groups to provide you with the emotional support.
Bringing in additional help.
Amy designated herself as the primary caregiver for her aging parents. This meant moving across the country to move in with them. She said she has siblings and they each help out in all aspects of their parent’s care, but at differing levels. Give what you can when you can.
When more support is needed, beyond the emotional, look toward private duty home health care to supplement and support your efforts. Take Care‘s team understands this dynamic and coordinates to alleviate some of the caregiver/family stressors.
We all age, at different times and it can be sudden or gradual. It is important to keep this in mind and take things one day at a time.
Watch the full TODAY Show segment here: Caring for Your Aging Parents (NBC TODAY Show)