When to step in with your elderly parentsPublished 12:19pm Monday, October 4, 2010
Your dad lives in another state and is recovering from a broken hip. You hear from his neighbor that despite his cheery “everything is just fine” attitude, he is unable to keep the house clean or do laundry. Or maybe you live across the country and worry about your aging parents. Are they still safe living in their own home?
Whether your parents are still in perfect health or are beginning to rely on you for day-to-day things, it may be wise to plan for their future care and welfare.
The challenges of caring for aging parents can be taxing for the in-between generation. Not only are families more dispersed than they once were, couples are waiting longer to have children.
That means that when this generation’s children are teenagers, their grandparents may be well into their 70s or 80s — when they need more help. This category of people even has it’s own term: the sandwich generation.
They are squeezed between the demands of their own children and the responsibility they feel to assist their aging parents.
How much should you do? Becoming involved in the care of your parents is not necessarily to take over all aspects of their lives or to physically take care of them.
Educate yourself first. Find out what kinds of services are available in the community that your parents live in and discuss with your parents what kinds of services they think they may need. Let your parents remain in charge. Don’t assume you know what your parents want or need. Listen. Remember the intent here is communication, not control.
Getting organized to care for your parents is a multi step process that requires time and energy as well as patience and sensitivity.
It takes some time for you both to adjust to this new situation.
Despite your good intentions, your parents may not initially welcome probing
questions regarding their personal documents and finances.
Expect some resistance. This common reaction may have more to do with their personal pride — no one likes to lose control or feel like they are a burden. Gently explain that should they become sick or incapacitated, there is little you can do to help them without access to certain documents and information.
You will probably talk to many different people who can advise you on the kinds of assistance and long term care options available for your parents.
Your first call should be to the Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433 we can assist you in finding community resources to help your parents remain independent for as long as possible.
This article is made possible with Older Americans Act dollars from the Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging. Call the Senior LinkAge at 800-333-2433 to speak with an information specialist, or check out our website at MinnesotaHelp.info.
MinnesotaHelp.info is an online directory of services designed to help people in Minnesota find human services, information and referral, financial assistance, and other forms of help.
Karin Haugrud is a senior LinkAge specialist in Fergus Falls..