A study has revealed that 75 percent of adults have not had a discussion with their parents about retirement, inheritance or funeral wishes. Not many people want to think about the welfare of their parents towards the end of their days and prefer to avoid talking about this difficult topic.
One of the most difficult questions you will have to face in your family is about the elders in your home. The difficult question is – who will take care of the elderly parents once they are unable to take care of themselves? Some parents do not want to be a burden for his/her children and family. However, in reality, a family is still the best source of care, just like a good insurance policy.
Raising children is not classified as a burden but an essential responsibility, a part of life. Similarly, caring for our parents should be considered a responsibility, a part of life rather than a burden.
What The Statistics Say
With more and more couples being childless or choosing not to have children, the ratio of caregiver support is expected to decline to one is to four by 2050 (AARP) – in laymen terms this means that the number of adult caregivers would be lesser than the elderly population by 2050.
Why It’s Not Easy
The challenging truth faced by caregivers to a single elderly parent is being aware of their loss of independence due to various reasons. It is a huge reversal of roles when we realize that the parents we once looked up to make decisions for us are now unable to sensibly decide for themselves. It is very easy to say, ‘make decisions that totally respect their desires’ – but predicting these desires and understanding the various layers of their life experiences is not easy.
Simple activities of daily living like getting out of bed, bathing, eating, and exercising appear to be phenomenal challenges. Reasoning and discipline become complex conversations keeping in mind their good health and mobility.
Not all single elderly parents are difficult to deal with – the loss of a life partner, diminished hearing, eyesight, loss of agility and mobility add to the frustration of an elder in our care. While some deal with these changes effectively, to others, old age appears to be a miserable phase of life.
Preparing In Advance
With the increase in nuclear families and large-scale immigration from each home, taking good care of the elderly is not always possible. Making sure our single elderly parent understands the consequences of decisions taken, be it health, finance, medication or lifestyle is imperative. The power of attorney is an important aspect to be discussed as finances matter to every household. Leaving no stone unturned, it is best to get an advanced directive, which lists out on how to deal with different situations with progression in age.
A Comforting Presence
While it is easy to paint a dismal image of ageing and care it is equally possible that a single parent living at home can be a source of solace to the household – a storehouse of good advice, a pillar of understanding to the growing child at home and a watchful eye for the timing and supervision of household tasks which can be difficult to handle for the new working generation.
Ensuring Their Well-Being
Empowering our single elderly parents at home by encouraging their friendships, helping them socialize, sharing their skills and experiences as volunteers and strengthening community bonds is imperative to their well-being. The idea of a multigenerational household being a source of positive influence is ideal but rare these days.
Balancing day-to-day activities, regular care for the elderly and other members of the family, in the face of restricted space and finances is daunting to most families. When it comes to protecting their independence, elders can be very stubborn and unrelenting.
Caregiving should be a priority rather than a narrow focus on emotional challenges, legal, financial and medical decisions. Knowing and recognizing that death is inevitable, being prepared for and carrying out the wishes of your loved ones towards the last few years of their lives is what is important and essential to the well-being of the entire family.
Source: Online Health Magazine