How to Care for Aging Parents
LTS recently partnered with Bright Horizons on a powerful webinar entitled, “The Caregiving Generation: Tips for Caring for Aging Parents”. If you missed it, you can find lots of compelling information on the new face of caregiving and how to strike a balance in your work and your personal life. Click here to see the video on YouTube. This month’s Blog highlights the critical aspects of caregiving for the elderly from the webinar.
The face of caregiving today has changed. Today, Caregivers tend to be baby boomers that work full time, are female, and are 49 years of age. Known as “The Sandwich Generation”, these working caregivers are increasingly taking care of elders that prefer to stay at home as they age, or “aging in place”. As good as this sounds, the quest for increased quality of life and independence can put additional strain and responsibility on the caregiver. Here are 5 things you need to know about being a loving, responsible caregiver to an elder at home- while taking care of you and your family.
5 Top Tips for Caring for Aging Parents:
1. The first factor to consider is home safety. Some things to consider are make sure the home has good lighting, no throw rugs on the floor, and bathroom safety equipment such as safety bars and shower chairs.
2. Begin having the tough conversations early about how your loved one would like to live out the end of their life. If you wait until dementia or physical illness sets in, it may be too late. Start addressing topics such as completing a health care proxy, a Living Will, a power of Attorney, future medical treatments and end of life wishes. These are not subjects that are easily broached but it is important for your loved ones to express how they wish to live out their final chapter in life while they are still lucid. Atul Gawande’s best-selling book, Being Mortal, is an invaluable read about this topic.
3. Elder care can be a bonding opportunity. Recognize that as taxing as caregiving can be, it can also be extremely rewarding. Use it as an opportunity for you, or your children, to bond even closer with their elderly loved ones who are often grandparents.
4. Do your research. There are several resources available to you which will lessen the burden and guilt of being a working caregiver. Talk to your employer; they often have added benefits or flexible work schedules. Online programs such as Lotsa Helping Hands and Neighbor Brigade can help to coordinate care among family and friends. A more comprehensive resource listing can be found at the end of this blog.
5. Take time to care for yourself. Caregiving can be a marathon—physically, financially, emotionally. Your physical and mental well-being are the most important factors in giving care to your loved one. Make sure you do what rejuvenates you such as taking a walk, getting exercise, having dinner with a friend, reading a book, or walking the dog. Whatever brings you peace of mind will transfer onto the one you’re caring for and help you to create a greater work/ life balance.
– Bright Horizon & LTS’ Webinar, “The Caregiving Generation: Tips for Caring for Aging Parents” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7b41q4tAUZU)
– AARP; www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving
– Lotsa Helping Hands; www.lotsahelpinghands.com
– Neighbor Brigade; www.neighborbrigade.org
– National Association of Area Agencies in Aging; www.n4a.org
– Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande