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The Challenges And Rewards Of Caring For Two Aging Parents

Just as we are different from each of our siblings, so too are our aging parents unique in their own way. Whether your parents bicker or get along well, if the time comes when they can no longer age in place, you and other family members will need to look at options for caring for them. In some cases you and your spouse may find yourselves face with the situation where each of you had an aging relative or two that you’ve suddenly become responsible for and that makes for an even more precarious balancing act between both sides of the family as well as your own family.

What do you do, and how can you balance the duties that come along with caring for two or more aging relatives? Here are some suggestions:

  • Determine whether any of the seniors in your life can live alone. If being alone is possible with assistance, consider gifting them with a home medical alert device and a personal medical alert pendant as this can offer peace of mind to all involved as well as provide them access to immediate medical care if necessary.
  • Would hiring an in-home part-time caregiver help relieve some of the caregiving burden upon you and your family members? Would your parents be amenable to having a      “stranger” come into the house to help them out? This is something that would need to be discussed up front. Is there an outreach at the church or local religious association they attend that could provide assistance? Even getting help with cooking, cleaning, yard work or running errands can help relieve some of the burden of caregiving and allow you to simply sit and relax when you visit your parents and spend time with them rather than having to rush around to do the housework and errands.
  • If you are caring for both parents and in-laws, how do you divide the time between them so there are no hurt feelings of being left out? This could come down to a matter of “who needs the most care.”
  • You will have to learn to ask for help and delegate tasks. If you and your spouse are both engaged in caregiving and you have siblings in the area, you will need to pick up a phone and ask for help. You can’t do it all alone and you shouldn’t have to. Being an effective caregiver means knowing your limits and reaching out for help before you burn out.
  • Even if you have healthy parents, but your spouse has parents in need of care, don’t neglect to spend time with your own, healthier relatives. Feelings of hurt and neglect can quickly boil over into a stressful family situation.

Being in a caregiving situation is stressful, but can be managed with time and effort and thoughtful care. Adding a second or third elderly relative into the mix will certainly add to the challenges. Make certain you take time to remember the care you’re giving may allow your parents to age in place for a longer period of time and use the time you’re spending with them to build memories for those times when they are no longer with you.

 

 

 

 

Learning to Avoid Conflict While Taking Care of an Ailing Family Member

The family is at the core of our entire civilization and in many cultures the family unit is the foundation of society.  And where the family unit is strong the people tend to be more stable, caring and giving.

In many communities the mother is forced by economic necessity to work and as such needs to give her children to someone to look after while she is away from home. In some communities, the tendency has been for younger generations to remain in the city of their birth and the role of babysitting  is usually given to the grandparents or other relatives.

But so often it happens this older generation becomes feeble or ill and needs care in return. Where families are strong there is a good chance that this nursing and elder care will be managed by the various family members fairly seamlessly.

However, within modern and urban environments the family unit is under severe stress. Divorce and family breakdown leading to 1 parent homes is far too common. And even those families , which are reasonably stable, the connection between siblings and parents of both spouses can be weak.  It is not uncommon for the various households to be miles and even cities apart.

Thus when one or both of the older members of the family starts needing care there are a huge number of stresses and strains that can be put on the various relationships and marriages can fall under a lot of strain. It often falls on the adult child who lives closest to provide a lot of the time, attention and care leaving his or her family lacking the proper attention. This can sometimes lead to frustration because they are getting less attention than they are used to, or feelings of neglect, resentment or discord in the family.

The Solutions to these are far from straightforward and need some care and forward planning.

It is suggested that the siblings agree in advance the various roles each will play and do the best to share the load both physically as well as financially. The burden may be considerable including the employment of a professional care giver so as to free the family member  from some of the burden. One very easy step is to equip the loved one with a medical alert service to ensure they have access to quick help in the event of an emergency. In so doing, this frees the family member up to have more time to devote to their own career and family.

Seeking Appreciation As A Caregiver

For some individuals, caring for an aging parent is a rewarding experience and a chance for them to give back to the person who may have played a vital role in their lives. Caring for an aging relative whose cognitive abilities or personality is changing can quickly take its toll on the caregiver and make her feel unappreciated.

It is not uncommon for a caregiver to feel they are being taken advantage of or that the time and effort they put into caring for an aging relative isn’t valued by other family members. These feelings, while not easy to address for the caregiver, are common and should be addressed. There are ways to cope with the feelings of depression and the stress that is inherent with being a caregiver.

Put Your Feelings Into Perspective

Caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s disease or other illness that diminishes their mental capacity will bring with it personality changes that may be difficult to cope with. Try to keep in mind that their anger or disorientation is a factor of their illness, not an indication of their feelings toward you or the care you’re providing. On the other hand, caring for a relative or senior with full cognitive abilities may simply be frustrated. Don’t internalize your feelings of dismay at the way they behave. Instead, remember the love and attention you share is likely to have great value in the life of the one you are caring for.

Take Care Of Yourself

There will come a time when you simply need to step back and take time away from caregiving. It will likely be a difficult challenge to announce that you need to take care of yourself, but it’s crucial to your physical and mental well-being that you do so. Caregiver burnout is a real side effect of being the sole individual responsible for taking care of an aging relative. This can be even more difficult if you’re not only taking care of aging parents but raising your own family and pursuing your career at the same time. Seek out others who can relieve you for an hour, a day or even a weekend and do something fun for yourself.  Also enlist others to help with daily duties at home so you aren’t so overloaded. You’ll come back a bit more refreshed and ready to handle the tasks at hand.

Ask For Outside Support

Along the same lines of taking care of yourself is your ability to ask for help. Calling upon medical professionals or family members is necessary not only for your well-being but for the well-being of your relative. Seek out caregiver support groups or groups from which your relatives may benefit such as an Alzheimer’s Support Group. Search out federal, state and local organizations that provide assistance and support for the aging. Don’t be afraid to call on the services of a personal in-home caregiver when the need arises. If you’re dealing with a parent that is healthy mentally but is having other health or balance issues, take time to age proof the house and to install a home medical alert device as a way to support them when you’ve gone home at night.

Caregiving can be a time-consuming and mentally draining task, but the ability to spend quality time with your aging relative could be one that brings with it memories that will last a lifetime.

Seeking Appreciation As A Caregiver

For some individuals, caring for an aging parent is a rewarding experience and a chance for them to give back to the person who may have played a vital role in their lives. Caring for an aging relative whose cognitive abilities or personality is changing can quickly take its toll on the caregiver and make her feel unappreciated.

It is not uncommon for a caregiver to feel they are being taken advantage of or that the time and effort they put into caring for an aging relative isn’t valued by other family members. These feelings, while not easy to address for the caregiver, are common and should be addressed. There are ways to cope with the feelings of depression and the stress that is inherent with being a caregiver.

Put Your Feelings Into Perspective

Caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s disease or other illness that diminishes their mental capacity will bring with it personality changes that may be difficult to cope with. Try to keep in mind that their anger or disorientation is a factor of their illness, not an indication of their feelings toward you or the care you’re providing. On the other hand, caring for a relative or senior with full cognitive abilities may simply be frustrated. Don’t internalize your feelings of dismay at the way they behave. Instead, remember the love and attention you share is likely to have great value in the life of the one you are caring for.

Take Care Of Yourself

There will come a time when you simply need to step back and take time away from caregiving. It will likely be a difficult challenge to announce that you need to take care of yourself, but it’s crucial to your physical and mental well-being that you do so. Caregiver burnout is a real side effect of being the sole individual responsible for taking care of an aging relative. This can be even more difficult if you’re not only taking care of aging parents but raising your own family and pursuing your career at the same time. Seek out others who can relieve you for an hour, a day or even a weekend and do something fun for yourself.  Also enlist others to help with daily duties at home so you aren’t so overloaded. You’ll come back a bit more refreshed and ready to handle the tasks at hand.

Ask For Outside Support

Along the same lines of taking care of yourself is your ability to ask for help. Calling upon medical professionals or family members is necessary not only for your well-being but for the well-being of your relative. Seek out caregiver support groups or groups from which your relatives may benefit such as an Alzheimer’s Support Group. Search out federal, state and local organizations that provide assistance and support for the aging. Don’t be afraid to call on the services of a personal in-home caregiver when the need arises. If you’re dealing with a parent that is healthy mentally but is having other health or balance issues, take time to age proof the house and to install a home medical alert device as a way to support them when you’ve gone home at night.

Caregiving can be a time-consuming and mentally draining task, but the ability to spend quality time with your aging relative could be one that brings with it memories that will last a lifetime.

Plan For Eldercare Before A Need Arises

Seeking resources to care for aging parents isn’t a task to be undertaken when in crisis mode. By the time an aging parent needs additional care, you may not know where to turn and you don’t want to have to make uninformed decisions on care for your aging relatives. If you’re in regular contact with your aging relatives it will likely be easy to see when they are reaching the point where they need additional assistance if they’re to remain in their own home.

As a caregiver, it will fall to you to make difficult decisions, but if you work with your parents, siblings and other family members prior to a need arising, you can have a plan in place for the time when emergency care may be necessary. In many cases, caregivers find it difficult to round up the care their aging relatives need because there typically isn’t a central location to find all the services necessary.

Here are a few agency names, services and contacts to search for in your particular part of the country to find assistance for your aging relatives:

Office or Agency for the Aging. These agencies are run under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are available in all municipalities. The Office for the Aging is a clearing house for local aging services. The individuals that work there can also help you become acquainted with the services available in your particular region of the country.

  1. 211 is a telephone service available in most major cities. This number can quickly put you in touch with critical elder care services in your community such as agencies that help with utility bills, food banks, adult day care facilities, respite care and more.
  2. Ministries in your area. Check with the religious organization that your parent belongs to and see if it provides any services for the elderly. Many large churches provide ministries that cater specifically to senior citizens. Your church may also be able to arrange for volunteers to come and either visit with your aging relatives or even help with light housework or cooking.
  3. Ask your employer if it offers any type of services to caregivers. Many caregivers don’t think to ask their human resource department if there are any resources available to them for helping in seeking out care for aging parents. In some cases, the company’s Employee Assistance Program may provide access to services to provide relief to both the aging relative and the caregiver.
  4. Home medical alert system providers. Equipped with a medical alert pendant, these devices provide peace of mind knowing emergency assistance can be easily accessed at the push of a button.

How To Decide If Your Loved One Needs A Home Medical Alert Device

How To Decide If Your Loved One Needs A Home Medical Alert Device

Because it’s statistically proven that individuals over the age of 65 tend to fall more often than the rest of the general population, it is one of the reasons these folks are such perfect candidates for home medical alert systems. Age-proofing the home by removing potential trip and fall hazards, moving items to easy to reach cupboard space, equipping the bathroom with senior-friendly accessories are a few of the items you can undertake to help your elderly relatives age in place.

Because trips and falls lead to not only broken bones they can also lead to more serious complications and because of this, you’ll want to look into purchasing a home medical monitoring system. A medical alert system offers access to medical care at the push of a button and if they’re injured, ill or have a more serious medical emergency, this alert system and a fast response can save lives when seconds count.

If you’re wondering whether it’s something you should look into for your aging relatives, here are a couple of facts to consider:

  1.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than one third of American individuals over the age of 65 will suffer a fall in the home
  2. There are more than 60 million Americans that would need immediate access to medical help and if they don’t have immediate access it could be the difference between life and death. Having a medical alert device assures that medical personnel would be dispatched when necessary.

Here are some facts to keep in mind when making a determination on whether your aging loved ones are candidates for home medical monitoring systems:

  • If they’re 65-years-old or older. In this age group, hearing and vision problems can impact balance. Also, if they fall, they can easily suffer a broken bone and might be unable to call for help in the event they’ve been injured.
  • If your aging loved one is living alone. For senior citizens who don’t have a family member in the house, a trip, fall or medical emergency could mean they may lie there for hours, or even days, before help arrives on the scene.
  • If they have an illness such as diabetes, cardiac issues, asthma or if they have had cancer or suffered a stroke.
  • An elderly loved one that is mentally or physically disabled. If they’re having difficulties with mobility, a home medical alert system makes it easy to summon help.

Caring for an elderly relative causes stress on both sides of the family – the one being cared for and the caregiver – and a home medical alert system eases some of these concerns.

To Move or Not To Move

On the surface, it might seem like a good idea – move your aging parents into your home once they’re no longer able to live independently.  Doing so may eliminate the need for you to split your time between spending time with your own family and making trips to your parent’s home to take care of them, but intergenerational housing isn’t always a smooth transition.

If moving your parents to your home seems like a good idea consider this step carefully. Advance preparation and thoughtful discussions can address family issues or problems before they arise. The home medical alert providers at LifeFone offer these suggestions before making the move:

  1. Finances: Will there be a 50/50 split in expenses? Will your parents pay a portion of the utilities and mortgage based on the amount of space they’ll be occupying? Will you split grocery costs?
  2. Privacy: Is your home large enough for your parents to occupy their own wing? Will they only have access to a bedroom and everyone will share the bathroom, living and dining rooms and kitchens? Will there be separate entrance ways for the two families?
  3. Boundaries:  Will you be together all the time? Will each of you lead separate lives? If you have the only big screen in the house in the living room who gets to decide what will be watched and when? If you, or your parents want to invite guests for dinner does that automatically make it an entire family event or can you do so independently of one another?
  4. Declining Health:  Will you take over all healthcare tasks? Will you hire a home healthcare aide? Who will make the arrangements and pay for the care?
  5. Safety: Is your home senior-friendly? Is the shower or bathroom area equipped for individuals with limited range of motion? Are the floors covered with a non-slip surface? Can your parents reach important items or are they too high?

If you decide that moving your parents into your home is a wise and sensible decision, you will want to provide some sense of security and freedom for you and your loved one. You can’t be around 24/7 so equipping your home with a medical alert system to help assure their safety when you leave the home is another wise consideration.

To Move or Not To Move

On the surface, it might seem like a good idea – move your aging parents into your home once they’re no longer able to live independently.  Doing so may eliminate the need for you to split your time between spending time with your own family and making trips to your parent’s home to take care of them, but intergenerational housing isn’t always a smooth transition.

If moving your parents to your home seems like a good idea consider this step carefully. Advance preparation and thoughtful discussions can address family issues or problems before they arise. The home medical alert providers at LifeFone offer these suggestions before making the move:

  1. Finances: Will there be a 50/50 split in expenses? Will your parents pay a portion of the utilities and mortgage based on the amount of space they’ll be occupying? Will you split grocery costs?
  2. Privacy: Is your home large enough for your parents to occupy their own wing? Will they only have access to a bedroom and everyone will share the bathroom, living and dining rooms and kitchens? Will there be separate entrance ways for the two families?
  3. Boundaries:  Will you be together all the time? Will each of you lead separate lives? If you have the only big screen in the house in the living room who gets to decide what will be watched and when? If you, or your parents want to invite guests for dinner does that automatically make it an entire family event or can you do so independently of one another?
  4. Declining Health:  Will you take over all healthcare tasks? Will you hire a home healthcare aide? Who will make the arrangements and pay for the care?
  5. Safety: Is your home senior-friendly? Is the shower or bathroom area equipped for individuals with limited range of motion? Are the floors covered with a non-slip surface? Can your parents reach important items or are they too high?

If you decide that moving your parents into your home is a wise and sensible decision, you will want to provide some sense of security and freedom for you and your loved one. You can’t be around 24/7 so equipping your home with a medical alert system to help assure their safety when you leave the home is another wise consideration.

Do Your Relatives Need A ‘Health Benefit Check-up’?

Did you know there are more than 2,000 federal, state and private benefits programs available to help save seniors both time and money on the costs of ordinary expenses? When faced with the care of aging relatives it is sometimes a difficult task to round up services to help care and provide services for the elderly in your life. The National Council on the Aging provides a free web service, BenefitsCheckUp.

The purpose of the site is to provide aid and information to adults – age 55 and older – who need help paying for:

  • Health care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Other basic needs

Individuals need only answer a few questions and then can get a report that provides information on resources and programs specifically suited to their needs. Once you know the type of programs your elderly relative needs, individuals can apply online or call for more information. The types of expenses you may be able to get help with include:

  • Medications
  • Food
  • Utilities
  • Legal
  • Health care
  • Housing
  • In-home services
  • Taxes
  • Transportation
  • Employment Training

The National Council on Aging is charged with improving the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. NCOA is a national voice for older Americans and the community organizations that serve them.

The home medical alert providers at LifeFone understand the importance of caring for the aging population and are always happy to provide information to make it easier for caregivers to take care of their elderly loved ones. In addition to providing a home medical alert device to allow the elderly to age in place they pass along crucial information. Click here to learn more about BenefitCheckUp.

Caring For Elderly Relatives Means Treating Them With Respect

As Baby Boomers watch their parents age and become dependent on them for care, it is a difficult time for all family members. Many seniors may not be fully aware they are losing their faculties and it may be hard for them to be cared for when they’ve spent their lives as the caregivers.
Caring for the elderly, especially when it’s your own parents is a stress inducer. When the roles are reversed and the children are now in the role of caregiver rather than the ones being cared for, it’s awkward for all parties involved. Parents or other aging loved ones may not be receptive to the new interference in their lives and help in managing their day-to-day activities. To make a smooth transition from care provider to care recipient, show your loved one love and treat them with respect, even though they may be tough to deal with or due to health or mental status they may act like children.

In some instances, friction arises when you’re trying to convince your parents that they either need you to come in and help with housekeeping, paying bills, cooking, or even going so far as to hire in home healthcare aides. The conversations need to be approached with care and need to focus on your desire to help relieve some of the burdens and anxieties. Tell your aging relatives, in a non confrontational way, that you’ve noticed some issues with their health; chances are, they’re aware of it but simply don’t want to admit it.

If your aging relatives have suffered health issues, you need to work with them on age-proofing their home to address potential any slip or fall issues. Whether your parents are aware of it, individuals over the age of 65 are more likely than any other segment of the population to suffer a slip or fall accident which can lead to a permanent disability or even death. If they are determined to age in place, they will need to make modifications to their home and its design to make it more senior-friendly. You will want to do a thorough inspection of the home and check for any potential slip or fall hazards such as:

  • Loose or slippery carpets
  • Electrical cords in walkways
  • Items in cupboards that are too high to reach without having to climb on a step stool

Added safety measures include:

  • Equipping the bathroom with non slip carpets, hand grips and even a seat for ease in showering
  • Installing a home medical emergency monitoring system. These are great for aging individuals as they are equipped with a waterproof medical alert pendant and if they slip or fall or suffer another health emergency, at the push of a button help will be alerted and emergency medical personnel dispatched if needed. The use of home medical emergency monitoring systems allows many elderly to stay home for much longer and offers all parties peace of mind

Make your relatives a part of the solution when helping them age in their own home. Don’t simply come in, take over and make wholesale changes to their home and their lifestyle. Bear in mind, they are accustomed to being the caregiver and if treated with respect, they will be receptive to the changes you’re implementing and will be more likely to ask for help in the future.