There are several situations you would rather not face in your lifetime and one of those is when you come to realize that your parents are no longer able to live an independent life, which means you have to make an emotive decision about how best to take care of them. Caring for Elderly parents can be a hugely rewarding experience, but there are many aspects and things to consider.
Caring for Elderly Parents
It is understandably distressing to have to face up to the stark reality that a loved one needs professional care to help them cope safely with daily life, so the question is when do you make that difficult decision and what options are open to you?
Here is an overview of how to spot the warning signs that your parents need extra care to keep them safe and healthy, plus some pointers on how to take the next step.
A serious hindrance to daily life
We have all had that forgetful moment or two when we don’t know where our car keys are and can’t remember what you specifically wanted to get from the grocery store but that is a normal human frailty and not a sign a that you have dementia.
It is entirely a different matter when these forgetful events are a regular occurrence and you find that a loved one seems to have problems carrying out a normal function like using the cooker or making a phone call, or they forget how to find their way home.
If you notice that a loved one is racking up the number of forgetful incidents on an increasingly consistent basis it could well be that they are demonstrating the signs of a more serious memory problem such as mild cognitive impairment, dementia, or an early indication of Alzheimer’s.
It should be remembered that dementia is a generic term and not a specific disease so your loved one could demonstrate a wide range of different symptoms that could well be a sign of any number of different disorders that affect the brain.
Personality changes and behavioral problems are also key indicators and you will know that something is wrong when your parent starts to change from the person you have known all your life.
Dementia is not a normal aspect of the aging process and every person is different but if you find that your loved one is experiencing problems carrying out everyday tasks and functions, it is time to seek a professional opinion and get an idea of the extent of the problem.
A complete medical exam
The first major step is to encourage your parent to make an appointment and see their doctor for a thorough medical examination.
The doctor can carry out a comprehensive mental and physical examination in order to reach an accurate diagnosis.
Tests include checking their memory, asking some problem-solving questions and checking their language skills. The physical examination might include a CAT scan of their brain to identify problem areas in their brain.
Once the evaluation process has been completed you will be in a much better position to make an informed decision and take the right steps to give your parents the care they need.
Making a painful but necessary choice
We don’t set out with the intention of putting our parents into a care home but when you are faced with overwhelming evidence that they are unable to cope independently anymore it is an option that you have to seriously consider.
Finding the right care center can be a daunting and emotionally challenging process but there are a few steps you can take to make the transition as smooth as possible.
It is always a good idea to involve your parents in the decision-making process if that is possible, as it can help both of you feel that you have made a mutually acceptable choice. Pay several visits to the care center that is on your shortlist so that you can get to know the manager and the caregivers and get a good feel for the place.
Many care centers are fine with your installing a personal phone line at your expense in their room, so consider that option if you want to be able to pick up the phone and call your parent when you are not paying them a visit in person.
Do also understand that the initial settling in period can be really emotionally draining and upsetting for you and your parent as everyone adjusts to a new life and surroundings, but those initial stages will fade and if you see that your loved one is coping better and happy once they have settled down, you will know that you made the right choice.