No one looks forward to the time when they must oversee their parents’ affairs, but there are ways to find balance and help them maintain their dignity.
Step 1: Visit, listen, discuss Visit often and talk with your parents. Address healthcare, financial, and housing issues for when they will require more care than you can provide.
Step 2: Get support Ask a neighbor or sibling to check on your parents often in your absence. Educate the helper about any medication schedule.
Step 3: Buy comfortable clothes Buy parents plastic-waist pants, slip on shoes, and other clothing with Velcro closures to make getting dressed easier.
TIP: Accept that you are becoming a surrogate parent to your own parents, and that it will be hard for all of you.
Step 4: Prevent burnout Accept help and take breaks from your parents. You need to manage your strength because they rely on your staying healthy.
Step 5: Take the keys Guide parents to avoid all but necessary driving. If necessary, have the doctor direct them to quit driving, or disable the car.
Step 6: Safety check their house Inspect the house to confirm smoke alarms and locks work, and that parents keep medical alert buttons on them or within reach at all times.
TIP: Don’t listen to others’ opinions of your efforts, especially if they come from uninvolved siblings who do not understand your situation.
Step 7: Educate yourself Educate yourself on senior services and alternative living facilities in the event your parents have to give up their home.
Step 8: Consult elder care attorney Consult an elder care attorney who can advise on a detailed will and set up power of attorney and advance medical directives. Post these in a prominent place in their home.
FACT: Recent surveys suggest 22 million U.S. households -- nearly one in four -- are caring for someone 50 or older.