All being well, the day will soon come when adult children are faced with caring for their elderly parents. This may not be an easy time, but it can be improved by knowing ahead how to prepare as their primary caregiver. The ideal time to talk about such care is well before your parents get to that stage. Having this conversation accomplishes two things: first, having the conversation prepares your parents to recognize the point where they begin to slow down and need help. Second, you both can get on the same page about their desires. Many seniors often desire to stay in their own homes for as long as possible. 

In many cases, the need for care arises suddenly. Your loved one experiences sickness, injury, or sudden cognitive decline, and you find yourself needing to make decisions for care immediately. There are two important perspectives on which to get clarity as you weigh your options to make your decision. First, understand your parent’s medical/physical challenges. Second, process and decide on the level of your role as the caregiving child. Are you able to provide full-time care? Are there considerations for your career? What role could a third-party caregiver play? How will finances be impacted?

Whether your parent has diminishing capabilities or dementia or limited mobility, assessing their needs and developing an outline of care needed (care plan) will enable you to manage the care process much better.  In addition to understanding their medical, physical, and mental capabilities, and assessment of the home is important. Take time to evaluate the space at home to ensure maximum safety from the risk of falling. Also, consider medications to be taken, meal planning, their daily schedule, bathing, and other needs like grocery shopping and physician’s visits.

Having thought through each of these elements will provide you with a perspective on how best to move forward. This process could begin by simply brainstorming all your parents’ potential needs. If outside assistance is needed, working with an in-home care agency can help your further clarify what’s needed, affirm what you’ve done and help you fill in the gaps. This understanding will provide you with perspective in deciding how to provide care by yourself, with the aid of family members, or engaging a senior in-home care agency to partner with you to care for your parent. The more people involved in your parent’s care, the easier it will be for you and the other children who will need to oversee it all. Having at least an outline of a care plan will help you supervise the care provided by others and spot potential gaps when they happen.

It is both rewarding and challenging to care for your senior parent. While you serve your elderly parent, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Schedule regular breaks, so that you’ll be both physically and emotionally renewed. These times of refreshing enables you to serve with your best self.