How to care for someone in the later years of life

Healthcare, medical and technology - doctor

Growing old can bring health problems, and unfortunately, old age does not just affect the elderly but their entire family, as they sometimes struggle to cope with the challenges that growing old brings. With one in twelve people due to be aged over 80 years by the year 2039, it is a challenge that we are increasingly going to have to tackle.

Old age care options

Traditionally, there have been several options when it comes to providing care for elderly relatives. The best-case scenario is that a person, such as a parent, is able to look after themselves well into their threescore years and ten, and so you as their child do not need to make any care provision. For those less able to look after themselves or those who feel more vulnerable as they age, there are warden-controlled retirement homes, where the person has all the independence they wish for but with the emotional security of knowing people are on hand should they need them. Alternatively, an adult child can have their parents move in with their own family, knowing that more and more hands-on care will be needed as the years pass. The last and usually most unwelcome solution is for infirm, whether mentally or physically, elders to be placed in a care home where they will have all the medical attention they need to have a good quality of life.

Drawbacks

Some of these options have drawbacks, however; the third mentioned, that of an elderly parents or parents moving in with their adult child’s family, particularly so. There are financial considerations to this option. A residence may not be big enough to house as many as three generations, so moving to a larger house is necessary, perhaps stretching finances to the limit. Some spouses may also find that having in-laws living in the same household is inhibiting. A care home, of course, costs a great deal of money, and finding this money may cause problems. Children may find that they have to sell their parent’s home to finance their care, which may mean any inheritance is gone. It is also possible that adult children find it a strain to care for their parents while still bringing up a young family. It can also happen that one adult sibling is left to bear the brunt of caring for parents, while the other siblings do little.

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Planning

A part of parents growing older and needing long-term care is knowing that the care will come to an end when they pass, and this also has its problems, specifically financial. To avoid being more upset than possible when your parent dies, it is a good idea for you and any siblings to sit down with your parent/s and discuss their passing. No one wants to have a conversation like this, of course, but doing so may make funeral plans and the aftermath that much easier. For example, you can ask your parent whether they want to be buried or cremated and even research which provider of funeral services to use. You can ensure your parent has a properly prepared and legally sound will in place so there are no unpleasant legal complications when they pass. You could even encourage your parent, or make provisions yourself, for a funeral fund, paying into this regularly so that their funeral is mostly paid for when the time comes.

Enjoy the time you have

This is also when you should make the most of your time with your parents. They have done a splendid job in bringing you up, have been there for you all of your life, now it is your turn to do what you can for them. Elderly people are notorious for not wanting much materialistically, so the best thing you can give them is your time and attention. For example, give them days to remember by taking them occasionally on vacation with you, going somewhere they will enjoy as much as you, or even treating them to a holiday with people their own age. If a two-week holiday is not possible, then have the odd day out at places local to you. If you have children, then let your parents enjoy their company, remembering though that if your children are very young, your parents may not have the energy to spend a whole day with them, maybe just an afternoon and/or evening.

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Your parents have been there for you your entire life. When they have grown old and less able to care for themselves, it is only right they look to you to make their golden years more comfortable, and with careful planning and consideration, it should be possible to do just that.