Navigating the Rough Currents of Caring For Aging Parents

two young boys on a computer with grandma from Navigating the Rough Currents of Caring for Aging Parents by Susan Gaddis

I’ve navigated the rough currents of caring for aging parents. It’s scary. My sister helped Mom and Dad with their medical decisions and I took care of managing their finances. But watching them lose control of their lives felt like death on the installment plan.

Growing older brings many unexpected changes to seniors, causing them to worry about their independence and their place in the lives of those they love.

Adult children eventually assume more of a parental role, one for which they are rarely prepared.

I wasn’t.

Honoring your parents involves caring for them in their old age (see Deuteronomy 5:16). This should be part of your spiritual legacy, but it isn’t always easy.

Sometimes the aging process involves changes in their personality and health.

The rough currents of caring for aging parents

  • At what point should a shift from independent living to senior care assisted living be considered?
  • Where do you find the services that provide help for the household tasks or personal care that aging adults need?
  • What is available in for home care, assisted living, residential care, a nursing home, or Alzheimer’s care?
  • How do you know which choice will be the right one?
  • When and how do you help a parent or grandparent make the changes facing them in their later years?
  • How do you do all of this with limited financial resources?

Where does one begin to look for senior care solutions to these questions?

Amazingly, all of these questions can be addressed by a personal consultant for senior care options—a “one-stop-shopping” expert who will help your family assess your unique situation and then find the best environment for your senior based on personality, needs, preferences, and finances.

A personal consultant will help everyone involved adjust to the changes that come with aging. In addition, these services are free. (Hello . . . why didn’t someone tell me this!)

Honestly, I wish I had known about a personal consultant when we were navigating my parent’s final years.

What to expect from a personal consultant

  • A complete assessment of your situation
  • A commitment to work with siblings and family living locally or in different parts of the country ensuring that all are on the same page and that the family relationships keep their integrity
  • Assistance with financial planning and information on available funding
  • Suggestions for dealing with legal matters
  • An understanding of local eldercare services and Medicare
  • Up-to-date information of available state-licensed options for eldercare in the area where you or your parent lives
  • Help with medical paperwork and communication with hospitals and doctors
  • Tours for your and your senior of suggested facilities
  • Referrals for in-home care agencies, moving companies, elder-law attorneys, estate planning, and veteran’s assistance
  • A commitment to ensuring everything involved in a change to a new location is done properly
  • Periodic check-ins to ensure that your senior’s needs are being met
  • All services free of charge

Suggestions for caring for aging parents

Personal consultant, Carla Muller, recommends educating yourself early so you are ready when faced with life situations that require you to make quick decisions.

Ninety percent of these decisions are emotional, and you want to get your ducks in a row before the need happens.

Carla also suggests using a personal consultant to help plan a family meeting before your senior ever shows signs of needing assistance or relocation. This way, your loved one can make his or her wishes known and options can be discussed while he or she is still able.

Legal papers, such as a medical power of attorney for medical decisions and a durable power of attorney for financial responsibilities, can be prepared in advance and filed for future use.

Another personal consultant, Charmaine Peterson, finds it rewarding to do the legwork required to help families going through a time of difficult change.

Sometimes the process is baby steps, but my commitment is to help the family from beginning to end with compassion, understanding, and reliable information to make the necessary choices.

As seniors start to change physically and mentally, those who love them often feel overwhelmed—with good reason. Negotiating the labyrinth of needs for an elderly loved one is difficult, time consuming, and confusing.

Take it from someone who wishes she had known all this earlier—consider contacting a personal consultant before you are faced with caring for an aging parent.

Helpful websites

A Place for Mom

Home Instead 

Now it’s your turn: Have you been in the position of caring for an aging parent? What have you learned? 

Susan Gaddis, helping you build a spiritual legacy

“Jesus likes it when we share.” -Adelaide Ayers, age 3: Pass this along to everybody and their brother. OK, maybe not everybody’s brother, but you know . . . all of your friends would be good.

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