When you think about your future, what do you see?
Chances are, even if your parents or older loved ones don’t need extra help now, they will some day. Many of us avoid contemplating a future in which our loved ones won’t be able to live independently. But it’s imperative that we spend time planning ahead accordingly, so that we aren’t caught off guard if and when the time comes. The alternative is going unprepared into the battle that I call the Caregiving Dilemma.
If, like nearly 90% of American seniors, your loved ones want to live at home for as long as possible, you may want to start planning ahead. There are a few things you can do now to prepare for the age-related concerns that may be in store for your family.
1) Make an effort to notice how your loved one is doing.
As we spend time with our older family members, it’s important to pay attention to how they seem to be doing. Take note of signs of memory loss, difficulty moving around the house, impaired driving skills, weight loss, depression. When you get home, write down your observations and include the date. Even if you think you’re overreacting, these observations may help you notice patterns develop over time, which can help you know when the moment has come to consult a professional.
2) Start the discussion now.
Many of us have an idea of what our parents would do if they needed extra help, but how many of us have spoken with them about it? It’s crucial that we include our elders in these discussions, and to approach difficult subjects with respect for their wishes.
We recommend having conversations about in-home care preferences as early as possible, so that you won’t have to make quick decisions in high-stress situations. So start the conversation now.
If you think a caregiver may be required at some point, approach the subject carefully. Instead of surprising your loved one with the suggestion that they receive extra in-home care, introduce the idea early on. That way, they’ll be more open to the option because it won’t seem so foreign. You’ll also want to start talking to your siblings, your spouse, and other family members and close friends.
3) Update living spaces before you need to.
While you’re thinking about the various challenges associated with aging and elderly care, consider the way a home shapes your life. Now consider the home your older loved ones live in. Do you feel comfortable with their ability to keep living there if concerns develop around visibility needs, wheelchair accessibility, falling, or fatigue?
You may want to take time now to plan simple renovations to your home or your loved one’s home so that they’ll be able to keep living there as long as possible. Check out our list of 16 Home Renovation Ideas to Make Aging In Place Easier for more info.
4) Figure out your finances in advance.
As age-related needs begin to become a reality for family members, you may realize there are costs associated with this time of life that haven’t been planned for. Having an understanding of the financial picture can allow you to begin exploring additional resources that might be needed. So take time to consider this aspect of care, and be sure to include this aspect of aging in your other discussions with family members.