Your parents took care of you for many years and you always knew you’d likely have to return the favor. If the time has come to care for an aging parent or another loved one, you might be overwhelmed by the tasks at hand. From their physical challenges to the more emotional ones, caring for an elderly person can be like walking on eggshells. You love this person, however, and that’s why you will be there, no matter what the cost. We can help, too—read on what for what you need to know about caring for an aging loved one.
What to Know About Caring for An Aging Loved One
Declare Your Devotion
First and foremost, you want this person to know that you’ll be there. You’re going to show up. Perhaps this person is fighting you on it, as he or she doesn’t want to be a burden. Deep down, what your loved one is undoubtedly feeling is a fear that goes right to the core. It’s hard enough to lose your independence but then to know you have to rely on someone else can be tough to swallow. Make sure this person knows you’re not only going to be there, but you want to be there.
Set Your Budget
If your loved one is on her own due to losing her spouse, she might need help with budgeting. This is particularly true if she’s going to be living on her own and not in a nursing home. And the sad truth is that money is often very tight for an aging loved one, so you might have to give him or her plenty of tips on saving money. There are a number of ways you can help this person to be frugal, including creating a coupon binder, assisting her in using sites like LivingSocial.com, and perhaps creating an online budget with a tool like Quicken. She may need an advocate like you to help her with bill paying and getting access to accounts that are not in her name. Ideally, the person who passed away will have this taken care of but, if not, you can help her tremendously in handling this for her.
Help With Funeral Arrangements
We know this is depressing, but it’s a necessary part of end of life care. If your loved one doesn’t have a will yet, help him or her do to this first and foremost. Consult a lawyer, or you can even use an online resource like LegalZoom. Those who have not paid for life insurance but don’t want to leave the financial burden behind can get help to handle the funeral costs with burial insurance.
Once the logistics are taken care of, make sure you address the emotional aspect of what’s happening. Burying your head in the sand doesn’t do any good for anyone. If he or she has a terminal illness or is nearing the end, find a way to talk peacefully about what lies ahead. And don’t forget the past. Ask plenty of questions about the way in which he or she grew up, what this person has enjoyed throughout life, and more. This is a time to reflect, and could even be a good time to take some notes in a journal for safekeeping. These days, it seems we document every single thing we do via social media. That hasn’t always been the case, so don’t let this loved one pass without digging a bit into what is sure to be a rich history.
Help Your Loved One to Retain His Dignity
It’s hard to feel dignified when you’ve lost your ability to drive, ability to go to the bathroom on your own, and sometimes even your ability to eat on your own. Help your loved one to retain his dignity in any way that you can. This can be as simple as not talking condescendingly. Don’t refer to adult diapers as that but instead use the word “undergarments”. Call a bib an “apron”. It’s these little approaches that help him not to feel as though you are talking down to him.
See elderly care on your horizon? Read this for what you need to know about caring for an aging loved one and you can ease the difficulties of this challenging transition.