Life is exhausting. People who work outside of the home deal with the pressures of the workaday world—endless traffic, stressful deadlines, and the often conflicting needs of co-workers, clients, and bosses. Those who are raising children must manage work days that never end, battle the exhaustion of sleepless nights, and worry about how each decision impacts their child’s future. It’s no wonder that so many people fantasize about how they’ll spend their retirement.
Care planning for your aging parents can be an emotional minefield. The people who have cared for you for much of your life now need care themselves. This can reopen childhood wounds, spur thoughts of your own mortality, and even be a source of resentment. Yet caregiving can also be profoundly rewarding. It’s a chance to give back to the parents who have given you so much. Or, if your relationship with your parents has always been conflicted—or downright problematic—caregiving may be a shot at redemption. You don’t have to do it all at once, and you don’t have to be perfect. You need only take it one day at a time. Here’s how to begin the care-planning process for your aging parents.
As an older adult, or the loved one of an older adult, it is important to know certain signs and red flags concerning prevalent diseases. For many seniors, dementia is a great concern. Studies show that it is a valid source of anxiety among seniors over the age of 65. According to the Alzheimer’s Association study of 2017, 1 in 10 seniors over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s Disease; the number only increases when other types of dementia are included.
In the popular understanding of dementia, people with dementia can’t safely live alone. They don’t recognize their loved ones and might barely even know themselves. This portrayal is a simplistic picture of a complex collection of diseases. Dementia is a slow and unpredictable illness. It doesn’t always manifest as cognitive issues. For example, the key symptom of a dementia called primary progressive aphasia is a loss of the ability to speak, frontotemporal dementia might manifest as behavioral changes, and Alzheimer’s may progress slowly for many years.
As your parents have aged, have you noticed a change in their activity or recreation pursuits? It is common for older adults to adapt their social calendars and physical exercise routines to meet the needs of their bodies. Chronic pain or other conditions can make once active adults become less active in their senior years. However, if your loved one is struggling to keep up with an active and engaged lifestyle, there are still plenty of ways they can move their body, connect with friends, and live a healthy life.
Getting older doesn’t have to mean that your parent can no longer drive. Senior driving allows seniors to maintain their independence, cultivate an active lifestyle, and sustain relationships with loved ones. Senior driving can also pose a serious danger when vision worsens, thinking isn’t what it used to be, and reflexes become slower.
So often, adult children will say they “want to do what’s right” in support of an aging parent. They want to provide all the care and support possible, but sometimes it gets to be too much. There comes a point where outside help, or even a change to a more suitable living situation, may be in order.
When a loved one has dementia, it can be difficult to know where to begin. For the adult child who receives a distressing diagnosis, or who notices changes in an aging parent, it can be hard to make sense of the sheer volume of new information and options. Fortunately, today's senior living landscape offers a range of options to ensure that Mom or Dad enjoys not just a safe living space but a community rich with possibility.
Life can be stressful. Busy jobs, financial woes, family obligations, the ups and downs of married life, and so much more mean the reality is that few of us make it to old age without facing a heaping pile of stress.