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America’s population is aging rapidly; in fact, experts predict that by 2050 the number of people aged 65 and older will increase to 89 million, with one fifth of that population being age 85 and up.

Statistics aside, many families keenly aware of the need to support an aging population, as mom or dad or another aging relative now needs special care and attention.

It is an honor to care for an aging parent or relative but the task, as many of you may know, comes with its own set of challenges. Whether you are caring for a parent at home or in their own homes, there are no solid tips that will work for everyone, but there are certain things that can make things easier on everyone involved, and help alleviate a little of the stress for the caregiver and elderly person as well. Some are as simple as a medical alert system, while others are much more in-depth, such as developing an estate plan and studying medical insurance policies.

The first piece of information we’d like to share has to do with anticipating the responsibility; having a conversation with siblings and family members when Mom and/or Dad are still completely functional. Try to work things out in advance, in terms of who will provide direct and indirect care when the time comes to step in. It’s not always possible, but when the duties can be divided, for example, one sibling takes control of the finances while the other helps with doctor’s appointments and household tasks, it can alleviate the pressure.

It’s also important to know where to look for help. Caregiving is complex, and can include significant decision-making in areas including healthcare and finances. To avoid caregiver burnout and excess stress, find out which community resources are available. They may include caregiver support groups, free or low-cost estate planning consultations or state or county-wide assistance with day-to-day care. Also, know that it is entirely ok to need a little support in this area – or a lot!

Try to become an expert in Medicare and Medicaid (or at least develop a good understanding of them!). These programs have many ins and outs, loopholes, etc., and can become a serious headache if you don’t take the time to learn how to work with them.

Also, work with Mom or Dad regarding their finances, not only to receive their input and help, but to cover important topics such as how to avoid financial scams. It is important to make sure your parent understands how to avoid making poor financial decisions or falling victim to those who prey upon the elderly. You’ll also want to understand their wishes if you eventually must take over legal responsibility for their finances and make important decisions for them.

Look for ways to make day-to-day life easier. There are certain shortcuts and tricks that may help take some of the stress out of the task. For some it may be meal services, or just having groceries delivered, instead of having to prepare foods every day. For others, it may help to hire a dog-walker, a housekeeper, or create a schedule of nearby friends and relatives to check in on and visit Mom or Dad throughout the week if they don’t live at home with you.

Finally, keep your mind at ease by making your home or your parent’s home safe and convenient.  Install hand rails, grab bars in the shower, maybe replace some of the heavier china with lighter, shatter-proof dishes. And do arm them with a medical alert system – these little devices can provide you all with vast peace of mind. You can read the reviews and compare before buying by visiting  medicalalertsystemreviews.net – they really do allow for more independence.

 

 

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