Whilst you are busy with work, family and friends, one of your parents is hospitalized and an emergency situation arises. Out of nowhere, the news throws you out of your schedule and everything appears to be falling apart. Most of us do not know if our parents have health insurance and what diseases it covers. Trying to figure out the next step can put you in a tough spot. Caring for ageing parents is one’s responsibility but if your parents are living in a different city, state, or country, it adds to the complications.
You can’t be in two places at once, you can’t ignore your ageing parents, and you certainly can’t sacrifice everything else to take care of them, and hence pre-planning is the solution. First off, step out of denial and accept that sooner or later you would have to face such a situation. So compile all relevant details such as their medical history, health insurance, emergency funds, etc. Although it is tough, but having a frank discussion with your parents about their future plan, hospitalization, financial status and other preferences will help you gauge where you stand and what preparation you need to do. If you have siblings, also get to know how they can contribute in such a situation in terms of their time, finances, resources, etc.
Although a huge majority of seniors would love to retain the freedom of living on their own, there comes a time when the ageing process does not allow it. At this point a dedicated caregiver is required which puts a lot of pressure on all parties involved in one way or the other. Encourage them to exercise and keep themselves fit, to go for regular health checkups, switch to a healthier diet to delay the aging process and continue living independently for a longer period.
We’re lucky to be living in a technologically advanced era. A GPS tracker can allow you to be constantly aware of their whereabouts, motion sensors without cameras or microphones can protect your parent’s privacy, while also updating the status report of your parents on your smartphone. You can make their house safer by installing a few special equipment like anti-scald shower devices, smoke detectors with vibrate features or strobe light features which can wake them up, carbon monoxide detectors, dim lights in the pathway to the hall or kitchen. Using slip-resistant bath mats and grab bars in shower and near the toilet can help prevent a fatal fall.
Visit your parents frequently to ensure their well-being, their physical and mental health and get to know the issues that they are facing by interacting with them first hand. You can also ask their neighbors, friends living in that area, or other family members to check on them frequently and if anything is wrong they can inform you. Taking help of the pharmacy from where your parents fill their prescription so that they do not miss out on their medications is important. Ergonomic adjustments for vehicles as needed can be very helpful for them to continue driving.
Many senior citizens can lose interest in cooking or are unable to cook for themselves. You can find a group meals or delivery service to help them with their meals. Finally, encouraging them to do what they like, for instance a hobby, involving in social activities can keep them indulged. Having family get-togethers will make them feel good and can be very good for their physical and mental health.
A geriatric care manager is an absolute Godsend as they can arrange for things like hiring a nutritionist, personal physical instructors, and more for your parents. They can also help resolve family differences over care giving choices for your parents with expert opinion. Ageing parents need your emotional support more than hands-on care that can be arranged by a geriatric care manager. This would allow you to concentrate on other aspects of your life and you can enjoy quality time with your parents. Planning ahead will always help you handle the situation better.
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