Life expectancy has doubled in number as compared to centuries ago which according to historians is just between 30 and 40 years. People can now enjoy life longer, and some are able to live past 80 years. One reason for this is the good quality of health care received by countries globally.
It is a joy to see our parents living to their old age. They can play with their grandchildren and tell them stories. They can help you raise a family of your own. But when the time comes when they are the one who will need our caring, can we say “NO?”
Of course, not!
As the intended caregivers to your aging parents, it would be hard to comprehend as to what extent they will be affected in their old age or how much impact it would make in your life.
According to the census made in 2016, Canada has more seniors than children. Seniors shared 16.9% of the population as compared to the 16.6% that of the children. This flow is expected to continue in the years to come.
Some of you might think, “Well, my parents are in good health.” I used to say those words, too, for they indeed were. They were both active until an accident happened. My mom broke her hip bone and just a year after, my father passed away from sudden cardiac arrest. Now, with my dad gone, my sister and I have to look after my mom.
Physical And Mental Deterioration
As our parents age, it’s not just their physicality that is affected. Their mental vitality also deteriorates. It could result in some visible and drastic changes. These changes in time will affect their looks, quality of life, and even emotional health.
You can beat this terrifying responsibility by becoming aware and prepared. You must face the reality that no matter how healthy your parents are, time will come when aging will take its toll on their health. And they will need you for support and long-term care.
Inability To Do Their Activities Of Daily Living
These are the usual activities our parents routinely do on a daily basis without the help of anyone. Such activities are feeding themselves, doing their personal hygiene (brushing, shaving, and other grooming activities), getting dressed, bathing and toileting, mobilization (getting in and out of their bed), and being able to control their bowel and bladder.
Aside from their daily routine, there are other activities they do that are related to their independent living. It includes cooking their meals, cleaning and keeping their homes, shopping for their necessities, paying their bills, managing their expenses, communicating through their devices, and taking their medications.
Have you painted the image in your mind? Yes, I know. It’s overwhelming. The responsibilities awaiting you are genuinely calamitous. Good for you if you have a sibling to share the duties with. But what if you’re alone? You enjoyed all the perks of being the only child as you were growing up. Now, it’s time for you to handle all the responsibilities of taking care of your aging parents solo.
The living condition is first and foremost the thing you should consider when your parents start to have health issues or can no longer do their ADLs on their own. Where and how they live is essential for their well-being, especially if your parent no longer has a partner. Like in the case of my mom, she was left behind by my dad. Lucky for me, I have a sibling who may be hours’ drive away but agreed that my mom can stay with her, though I have to come to look after her once in a while.
There are other options you can explore as early as now, like:
Aging In Their Own Home. Most of our parents don’t want to leave their home when they grow old. It’s not because they are being hard-headed or because they are getting old, but because it’s their comfort zone. They are not comfortable with the idea of living in an unfamiliar place. You may consider moving in with them or hire a caregiver if this is the setup they want.
Living With Family. You can talk to your parents about considering the option of moving in with a family member or relative. Family members can help assist them in their ADLs and some health care sustenance that does not need to be done by a skilled or professional medical person. Having a family member to look after them for companionship is far better, and they will feel more at ease.
Independent Living Communities. Some seniors who want to live independently still rent or buy a home in a community where other seniors reside, too. Many amenities are provided in this community, like a clubhouse, housekeeping, security, and yard maintenance.
Assisted Living Communities. This place is suitable if your parents want to be independent but need assistance when it comes to meal preparation, dressing, bathing, transportation, and help with medications. Like independent living communities, they offer amenities that may include social activities for the elderly, exercise, housekeeping and laundry services.
Nursing Homes. When your parent has a medical condition that needs caregiving or monitoring but doesn’t need to be hospitalized, you may consider nursing homes. It’s a living environment where nursing care is offered 24/7.
Becoming Financially Ready
Finances could be the biggest problem you would face when that time comes. Don’t feel burdened yet. Your parents may be entitled to financial support offered by the government. Know the programs of the government regarding senior citizens.
If your parents have retirement funds and other savings, you must be involved in how they are handling those so they will be financially secure when the time comes that they will need it. If they have prepared well, it would be convenient for both of you.
Know your tax law when it comes to senior citizens. Some states give free tax support to older people. You may also be allowed to claim tax exemption if you are the caregiver of your parents.
Ultimately, now is the best time to get your parents their insurance. Getting them their own policy that would cover some of their expenses will lessen your burden. Know and choose the best coverage you can afford. Talk it out with your parents. This is the best way you can help them plan for their retirement. Don’t be caught unprepared and feel like a victim of your own parents.
Being prepared will lessen your stress and will put you out of guilt for giving them a comfortable retirement and a quality health care they deserve.
Lambert, T. (2018). A brief history of life expectancy in Britain. Retrieved from http://www.localhistories.org/life.html.