When You Become Your Parent’s Keeper
While it is a difficult subject to address, it is better to address it early.
Life is a funny thing. Seasons change and we live out our lives. As the world goes on constantly changing so does our own lives and our roles in the world. Most adults eventually get a place where they need to take care of both their children and possibly also their own parents. It can be sad and difficult having to care for your parents after they have always been your caretaker and mentor. It can be not only taxing on your finances and time but also your emotions and possibly mental health as well. There are a few things to keep in mind when faced with these challenges.
Living a Fulfilled Life
One of the biggest challenges that many people face when caring for their aged parents is wanting them to live a fulfilled life. While it can be difficult to talk about, when they are at that time in their life there is not as much time left as we would like there to be. We want them to spend the remainder of their life in a fulfilling way. The important thing to know is that what may be fulfilling for you may not be for them. Most people consider fulfillment to be traveling or checking items off your bucket list. Those who are more aged might not have the same definition of fulfillment. Have a conversation with them and see what gives them energy and a feeling of fulfillment. Maybe it is running a marathon but more than likely it is spending time with their kids or grandkids. There might be certain difficulties that could impact their quality of life that are out of your control. Things like growing dementia or physical decay. You may need to be careful and sensitive to their wishes and be aware of when you can make decisions for them if you need.
This can be a difficult topic to address. While in your heart you usually don’t want to think about the financial repercussions of caring for your parents, you want to be able to give them all that you possibly can because of everything they have done for you. Once they have aged past a certain point the majority of people require some help of some kind, many people deny that they need the help for a long time at the detriment of their parents. The two biggest options are assisted living centers and in-home hospice care. There are lots of pros and cons to each and it isn’t cut and dry which one is the best and most cost-effective solution. Each situation is different and requires careful thought of both options. Compare home care with assisted living based on the situation your family is in based on current costs and relative health of who you are taking care of. Are they currently on or do they qualify for Medicaid or Medicare? What is their and your insurance policy like? Do they have any outstanding debts? It is difficult to unpack such a complex issue, but if you parent is coherent, involve them in the decision-making process as well.
Partial to Complete Dependence
A big part that you need to consider is that they will only grow more dependent on you. They will be completely independent and will become partially dependent on you but more than likely avoid ever telling you. It may seem like a rapid decline when in reality they may not want to be a burden, so they try and make do themselves. Especially for single aging parents, they may more quickly move from independence to most or complete dependence on you. It is important to be aware. It is important for you to be checking in and be aware of this process because they may not even be aware or be willing to admit it. It will probably require of initiative on your part to see a need and begin to move toward a solution before they know they need it. Be careful of their feelings but also be aware of their needs because many times they can contradict themselves in matters of children caring for their parents.
“It took a long time to decide to put my dad in an assisted living center and even longer still to pick the right one. Ultimately, they were able to give him more attention than we could just because we are busy. It was the right decision and while we visited him as often as possible, it was the right decision for us.”
– Raymond R.
Don’t be afraid to address the hard questions and be conscious of what they might want.