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How to Care for Aging Parents as an Only Child Caregiver

How to Care for Aging Parents as an Only Child Caregiver

Aging is part of life and not an easy one to navigate. And as an only child, the responsibility of care might fall solely on your shoulders. But don’t panic! Proactive planning will make the journey easier and is key to navigating the challenges of caring for aging parents.

This guide will equip you with essential tips for crying for an aging parent(s). Here are 5 tips to get you started:

Talk and plan early

It may be uncomfortable to talk about aging. As a child, you want to follow your parents’ wishes. Parents want to spare their children sadness and discomfort. It may help to realize that addressing these issues early is an act of love.

The situation may get even more difficult if parents feel they need to shield you from the realities of aging. Or it may be that your parents feel extremely uncomfortable with admitting to and talking about their aging. In either case, you may have to initiate the conversation.

Don’t feel you need to tackle everything at once. You can have many conversations over a long period. Do what feels natural. The important thing is that you’re talking.

Things to talk about

Every situation is different so this list can’t encompass all the questions you’ll have. That said, here are the basics of what you’ll want to cover:

  • Living options: What are their thoughts about where they live as they age?
    • Can they comfortably stay in their home (age-in-place)?
    • Would they prefer to stay at home with a professional caregiver? If yes, do not wait until care is needed to begin your research as it is almost impossible to get caregivers quickly.
    • Do they want to consider an independent living community that eliminates home maintenance responsibilities?
  • Have they already made some arrangements? Do they have long-term care insurance?  If yes, what are the benefits of the policy and how much care will it provide?
  • Advanced Directive: What are their wishes for medical treatment? Where are these documented?
  • Power of Attorney: Have they drawn up legal documents both for financial and medical powers of attorney? Whom have they chosen to perform this function? Under what circumstances should it be invoked?  Where are these documents and are they easily accessible?

Other information you should have

  • How to enter their residence.
  • Doctor, dentist, insurance information
  • Church, minister
  • Computer passwords
  • Bank information
  • Lawyer, accountant
  • Friends, neighbors

Before you start talking to your parent(s), write down all the questions you can think of.  Others may pop up over time, and that’s great. The idea is to start talking.  You don’t have to cover everything in just one conversation.

Create a team

Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it will take a team to help your parent(s) move through aging. You might want to introduce yourself to your parents’ attorney, accountant, doctor, minister, and banker early on. If your parent(s) need daily assistance and/or care, you may add a professional caregiver, a home health aid, or a care coordinator to your team. You may need to get acquainted with local social service organizations that serve seniors.

Make sure to include supporters for you on your team. As an only child, you won’t have siblings to back you up, but maybe your spouse, friends, or extended family can offer support.

What’s your caregiving role?

At some point, you’ll need to decide if you’ll be the primary, hands-on caregiver, the decision-maker who directs a team of caregivers, or some combination of these roles. This is an individualized decision that needs to take into account your capabilities, financial considerations, living arrangements, your family’s needs, and more.

Consider hiring help. An experienced in-home caregiver can handle a range of tasks from running errands and light housework to medication reminders and assistance with daily living tasks. You can work out a personalized care service plan that provides as much care as your loved one needs and fits your budget.

When caregiving begins

When you get to the point when your parent(s) need care, you’ll be glad you’ve done the preliminary work. But remember, perfection is NOT the goal.

Many of us strive for perfection in all we do, trying to be the perfect parent, the perfect employee or boss, the perfect child. But having perfection as your goal is a recipe for frustration and unhappiness. Life is too complex for perfection.

This is especially true if, as an only child, you’re the lone caregiver for your aging parent(s). Make decisions out of the love you feel, be kind, and don’t beat yourself up if things aren’t perfect.

Get Help Planning Care

Considering senior care options can feel overwhelming, but there’s help available! At Blakeford Senior Living, we offer a full continuum of care services, making it easier than ever to find the perfect fit for your loved one.

Our experienced senior living specialists will guide you through every step, from aging in place and in-home caregiving to independent living, assisted living, memory care, and rehabilitation communities. They’ll help you understand your options and create a personalized plan that prioritizes your loved one’s well-being and comfort.

Schedule a tour or give us a call to speak with a Blakeford Senior Living specialist today. Let us help you find the perfect care option for your loved one.