Taking care of aging parents is not an easy task. Many in our aging society are not aging gracefully, and fighting or ignoring their decline in physical and cognitive abilities. No matter how well we eat, how much we exercise, how many supplements we take, there is nothing that stops the aging process. Granted, we all age at different rates, but eventually our bodies wear out, and we can no longer do things as easily as we once did. Taking care of an aging loved one is not for sissies! To assist you as you go the through process of aging with your loved one, here are the top 8 common mistakes made by seniors and their families.
- Not planning ahead, even for a health care crisis
Common sense tells us that as we age we should expect to require some assistance, or even total care at some point. Yet, many aging adults find aging gracefully difficult. Fear of aging and a need to hold on to their independence causes many seniors not to ask for help. Those in the early stages of dementia may not recognize their need. Family members need to prepare themselves so that if a health care crisis does occur that their aging loved one will have some protection. Preparing for this will take time and energy. It requires learning about Medicare, Medicaid, insurance policies, legal forms and health care options available. Being prepared, can decrease stress and anxiety in a time of crisis, and gives you a sense of confidence as you assist your aging parent in making important decision.
Many adults who have a fear of aging neglect signs of poor heath.. Many overlook health problems for such reasons as worrying about paying their copay, so they delay going to the doctors until the condition worsens. Such a delay can result in more advanced stages of a condition. Many aging adults feel as if they can fight the process and refuse to wear hearing aides, braces or walking aids. Family members often do not address these behaviors as they are met with strong resistance. This can be a difficult and uncomfortable situation for many family members. Sometimes having a family meeting and having a person that your parent respects and trusts will open the lines of communication.
Not aging gracefully causes many adults to be reluctant to discuss that they need assistance, because to admit that fact means they are growing old. To many aging adults, that is a blow to their self-esteem and many perceive that they must give up their independence or become a burden to the family. Family members, many times are reluctant to bring up the subject of your aging parent needing care, due to family dynamics. Within the family there may be challenges of overcoming guilt, anxiety or even anger. It is important that you make your aging parent aware that you are there to support them and not to interfere, that their safety and health are your utmost concern.
- Are not aware of all the options and levels of care available
The healthcare delivery system can be overwhelming. Many families have no idea that where to begin to look for assistance or what services and options are available. There are many county, state and senior services that can provide direct access to specific care providers. Your local agency on aging can direct you to programs and services that are specific to your area. You clergy member may be able to assist you in directing you and your family members to professionals that have successfully supported other church members. You may want to utilize the services of a care manager or eldercare consultant to assist you in maneuvering the health care system. These are individuals that specialize in the care of the aging population and can advocate, make recommendations and assist in overseeing every aspect of the care and services that are needed for your aging parent.