Caring for an aging parent takes its toll both physically and mentally. Individuals from the growing “sandwich generation” – adult children of the elderly who are “sandwiched” between caring for their own children and their aging parents – experience unique challenges and stresses that can be overwhelming.
Caregivers encounter a wide range of emotions, from burnout and depression to feelings of guilt and isolation. The bottom line: longer life expectancy plus financial insecurity means many seniors need their family’s help…but where do you begin?
Start the Conversation
A ride to the grocery store. A companion for the evening. Communication is key when deciphering the specific needs of your loved ones no matter how big or how small.
Red flags that signify when help is needed:
- Unpaid bills (disconnected utilities, etc.)
- Changes in appetite
- Neglected household and yard
- Driving issues and accidents
- Medications not taken properly and as prescribed
- Erratic sleeping and exercise habits
- Health problems (mobility and personal hygiene) and mental issues (depression, anxiety, confusion, etc.)
United We Stand
Form a team – including family from near and far, friends, neighbors, church group, parish community, paid and unpaid supervision – to ensure the most all-encompassing care possible. Consult a physician, particularly when it comes to medical needs or concerns.
Keep in mind there are many local organizations to assist with caring for your aging parent such as:
- CRSS Social Service Department (314-918-2258)
- Area Agency on Aging (www.areaagencyonaging.org)
- Elder Care Locator (www.eldercare.acl.gov)
- Parish, Church, or Synagogue
Create a Plan
Financial security and resource assistance are important when creating long-term care plans. Make sure your affairs are in order for items such as Durable Power of Attorney that allow financial and health care decisions to be made on your behalf. Other checklist details: trust and will review, social security, estate planning, long-term care insurance, life insurance and funeral plans.
Caregivers need to remember two things: to take care of themselves and to remain involved with their loved ones regarding their many available care options. Understanding your aging parents’ needs – from housing and daily activities to transportation and finances – is the key to ensuring their health and wellness for a very long time.
Did you know…
According to the most recent available data by ConsumerAffairs:
- More than 810,000 people reside in assisted living facilities.
- The population of adults older than 85 will double by 2036 and triple by 2049.
- Seven out of 10 people require assisted living care in their lifetime.
- The U.S. will need nearly one million new senior living units by 2040.