The aging population is on the rise in the United States, which means there is a growing demand for senior care services and caregivers.
Our parents cared for us when we were younger. When they age, however, the role of caregiver and dependent can reverse. Thousands of adult children across the country are now assuming caregiving roles for their aging parents. The adjustment can be difficult for all parties involved.
One way to make the transition smoother is to know more about what caring for elderly parents entails.
Caregiving and senior care will look different for every family; it all depends on the level of care the senior in question needs. One of the best ways to determine how much assistance a senior needs is to determine how much help they need with activities of daily living.
Activities of daily living, or ADLs, are activities that people need to complete on a daily basis. When discussing ADLs, most people are referring to physical, or “basic,” ADLs. The six basic ADLs are
There are also instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), which are activities that require complex thinking. They are key to determining the level of care individuals need and can help experts identify if someone has a condition like dementia. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) identifies 12 IADLs:
People who need help with ADLs require more extensive care than those who do not; if someone needs lots of help with ADLs, it’s a sign that they should no longer live alone.
There are plenty of senior care options and living arrangements available to fit the needs of every senior and their family. Popular options include the following:
Not sure which senior care services are right for your aging loved one? Asking yourself the following questions may help you decide:
Many older adults don’t want to sacrifice their independence and leave their homes. Fortunately, many seniors can safely live within their own homes, so long as they and their caregivers make a few adjustments.
Safety should be everyone’s primary concern. Ways to make a space safer for older adults include:
Besides following the safety tips above, there are plenty of other ways to prepare for an older relative moving into your home. First and foremost, communicating with the senior in question is key. This way, everyone will be on the same page.
Conversations with your older relative should include setting boundaries and discussing finances. Boundaries are important so no one has unrealistic expectations, which can diffuse tension in tough situations. Finances are necessary to discuss so that everyone knows how to pay for any healthcare expenses or other senior care services.
When discussing finances, be sure to discuss establishing a power of attorney. No one likes to think about becoming incapacitated. Unfortunately, not preparing for this scenario can make a bad situation even worse; preparing for the worst can save loved ones mental, legal, and financial worries down the line.
More and more people in the United States are assuming primary caregiving responsibilities, which means more and more people are understanding just how tough caregiving can really be.
If you’re struggling with caregiving, know that you aren’t alone and aren’t weak. Caregiving is hard. How hard, exactly? According to the CDC, unpaid primary caregivers face a higher risk of:
Clearly, caregiving burnout is no joke, which means it’s important for caregivers to know how to take care of their own health and well-being.
You care for other people; just don’t neglect yourself in the process. Ways to combat caregiver burnout include:
Caring for family members isn’t just taxing emotionally and physically, but financially too. Experts estimate that families in the United States spend nearly $7,000 annually on caregiving expenses for their aging relatives.
You don’t have to care for your loved ones alone. There is plenty of help available out there, no matter what sort of care your aging loved one needs.
Family caregiving can only go so far in some cases. That’s where professional caregivers can help. Types of professional caregivers and services include:
You can find these services in your area by using the US Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator or by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging.
Healthcare prices are rising. Knowing where to look for financial assistance can mean the difference between a senior living comfortably in retirement and struggling financially.
Healthcare programs for seniors that offer financial assistance include:
AARP also offers a resource guide that details financial assistance programs specific to each state.
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys has a directory of licensed professionals located across the nation.
Sometimes an aging relative has to move into a senior living community. While this process can be frustrating, actually finding the right location for your older loved one doesn’t have to be difficult. You can check our directory to discover senior care communities across the country that will give your loved one the care they need with the respect they deserve.