5 Resources Children With Struggling Elderly Parents Should Quickly Consult
Are you feeling overwhelmed with caring for aging parents?
Getting older is something all of us have to deal with sooner or later, but if you have an elderly parent who’s struggling, it can be both frustrating and difficult to get the help that you need.
It’s especially difficult to watch the people that are closest to you struggling, and when that’s combined with a possible increasing financial burden and the logistical issues that can come with age, you and your parents need every resource you can find.
You’re not alone—there are plenty of people in the same situation as you.
According to Pew Research, as of 2015 there were 40.4 million unpaid caregivers of adults age 65 and older in the United States. Nine in ten of those were caring for an aging relative, and many of those were caring for aging parents.
I spoke with Jason Bliss, co-founder of Healthy Living Network, to get his perspective on things. Here are some of his insights, combined with other resources that can help you get your parents the help they need:
If you or your parents are dealing with financial issues related to their aging, the National Council on Aging runs a service that’s designed to help you find out about financial benefits you might not have known about.
“We deal with a lot of people who aren’t sure what financial resources they can call on for care, and BenefitsCheckUp has been a big help for that,” said Jason.
“We can point them to the site, let them get a report back on what they qualify for and then see what solutions are practical after they know where they stand.”
BenefitsCheckUp got started because the National Council on Aging is trying to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020.
As part of that, this free service lets users answer some personal questions, checks against the most current benefits list and sends them a report that tells them just what’s available. It’s an easy, free way to get help if you need it.
2) Meal Services
If your parents are forgetting meals or having difficulty cooking for themselves, meal services can be a great solution. The best known of these is probably Meals on Wheels, but there are other options like CarePathways, Home Bistro and more.
Malnutrition is a major issue for many elderly, and they’re a group that can ill afford it. Hundreds of thousands and maybe even a million seniors in the United States are malnourished, according to some reports.
It can lead to increased frailty, bigger chance for falls, worse health and a host of other problems. It makes for a worse quality of life at a time when they should be living comfortably.
Meal delivery can help with this.
“Meal delivery is great for elderly parents, especially if they’re living in their own home still,” said Jason. “Especially in situations where you’re dealing with a widow or widower, they may not have the skills to cook the kind of food that provides them the right amount of nutrition.”
Even if you’re providing some home-cooked meals already, meal delivery can take a burden off your shoulders and allow you a little breathing room.
It’s a great help.
3) Caregiver Communities
If you feel like you’re alone and don’t really know what you’re doing in caring for your parent, a caregiver community can be a good place to start. Many places around the web have links to communities of people who are going through the very same things you are and can offer support, tips and guidance.
AARP and the Family Caregiver Alliance run two very good ones.
Reaching out locally and through online forums can help you find resources and ideas that you may never have considered, or put you in touch with people who can help in ways you never expected. These communities can help you build a network of like-minded people who are able to lift you up when you get down.
4) Home Monitoring
If full-time home assistance or long-term care aren’t options, home monitoring can be a great solution that can help you keep an eye on your aging parents and make sure they haven’t run into problems. Smart technology can help you track medication, movement, falls and real-time health information so that you can know if something happens that you need to be concerned about.
“We’ve recommended home monitoring equipment to some of the people who just haven’t found long-term care feasible,” said Jason. “It’s a good low-cost or interim solution for people who don’t need or want the full long-term care experience.”
Staying on top of things remotely is more than just a pipe dream now with the advances in technology over the last few years—it’s practical.
5) Caregiving Services
Not everyone will want or be able to use hospice or home care services. For those who are having difficulty keeping up though, especially for seniors with chronic health issues like Alzheimer’s, it can be a lifesaver.
“Hospice and home care are what we specialize in,” said Jason. “Services like ours can help relieve the burden on families, especially if they’re having to take care of chronically ill family members.”
Home care is a catchall term for services that allow someone to live safely in their home. It can be short- or long-term—short-term would apply to someone recovering from an illness or a fall, while long-term might involve someone whose abilities are going downhill due to aging or chronic health problems.
Home health and home care can include companionship, transportation, light housekeeping, and more of the duties that make it possible for someone to live independently.
It also includes physical or mental rehabilitation, regular checkups, maintenance of catheters or feeding tubes, and more of the purely medical duties involved in taking care of someone who can’t completely take care of themselves.
Having someone else take care of some of the physical responsibilities can free you up to provide the emotional and mental support that your parents need as they grow older, and give you peace of mind that they’re being taken care of.
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice has a list of agencies that you can check against to see what’s available in your area, as well as many resources that can help you decide if it’s the right move for your family and which to go with.
There are plenty of resources available to help you as you take care of your elderly parents.
These are only a few. Make sure you’re taking full advantage of everything you have available so that their last years are their best.