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Parenting Our Parents

by Katie Riggs on October 24, 2016

Friendly KissWhen we were children, our lives were anchored in place by our parents. They were love. They were wisdom. They were food, faith and discipline. They were that nightly kiss on the cheek that sent us into dreamland.

Now we Baby Boomers are the parents of our parents. They are still our anchors. They are still love. Their presence says “home.” But our parents are now old, some frail. They are not as sharp, some are confused. They are still rocks, but in a body that may be weakened by a variety of health woes. Now it is our kiss that sends them to dreamland.

My parents are in their early 80s and happily living at home, albeit with a few challenges. Dad was recently hospitalized with pneumonia, but thanks to some help from home care, he has recovered quite nicely. But his hospitalization sent ripples of fear through my brothers and me. Mom and dad are getting up there. Mom doesn’t know how to gas up the car. Dad has trouble getting around. They can’t stay in the family home forever. What to do?

The first step is to recognize the reality of the presence and create a plan for the future (which may be closer than we think). This involves taking a family “needs assessment” by asking these questions:

  • What specific health issues do mom and dad have?
  • What do mom and dad need help with most? The house? The yard?
  • Can they take themselves to doctors’ appointments or would it be helpful to have a driver?
  • Do they remember to take their prescriptions? Can they even pick up prescriptions when they need them?
  • Do they need help with shopping and meal preparation?

Understanding how capable older parents are of handling these tasks of daily living will help in formulating a long-term strategy. If they can handle some of the above tasks on their own, they can likely remain at home but their lives would be much easier with help. In which case, it may be time to get help from a home care agency. Even a few hours a week spent on highly targeted tasks – housekeeping and laundry for example – would go a long way to keeping one’s parents independent, at home and feeling like less like a child.

The next step is to talk with home care agencies in your parents’ community to gain a better understanding of the services offered, their approach to care and cost. All home care agencies are not created equally so shop around, talk to as many as you can, and ask for references. You need to find someone who will be your trusted partner in “parenting” your parents.

At Home Preferred offers free initial consultations followed by individualized care plans. To learn more, click here.