5 Issues to Address When Helping Your Elderly Parents

5 Issues to Address When Helping Your Elderly Parents


By 2050, almost 17% of the population
will be 65 years of age or older. As medical advances enable people to live
longer, more people are becoming informal caregivers, which means they’re
unpaid. As of 2015, more than
34 million American adults
provided informal care to individuals age 50 or over.

As your
parents age, you may be responsible for providing direct care. You may also
find that you need to help with specific tasks when caring for your parents.
These are some common issues you may need to address.

1. Age-Related Sensory Issues

It’s common
for older adults to experience hearing and vision loss. The loss of these
senses can have a significant impact on their social interaction and safety.

If your
parents start avoiding phone calls and stop attending social functions, this
could indicate they’re having trouble hearing. Take them to an audiologist, a
qualified medical doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating hearing loss.
An audiologist can determine if your parents are suffering from hearing loss,
and whether the loss is permanent. They’re qualified to provide them with the
best hearing aids on the market. Treatment will
enable your parents to hear more clearly and engage socially for years to come.

macular degeneration, and cataracts are all issues that can affect the vision
of older adults. An optometrist can identify medical issues that may be
affecting your parents. Poor vision is a serious issue because it increases
their chances of having an accident. An optometrist can refer your parent to an
ophthalmologist if surgery or more extensive treatment is required.

Financial Needs

Many older
people live on fixed incomes and have limited financial resources. Your parents
may not have the financial means to cover all of their expenses, particularly
if they have medical needs. Talk to your parents about how they’re paying formedical supplies and discuss options with them. They can use pharmaceutical
services that bill Medicare directly, so they do not have to incur out of
pocket expenses. They can also sign up for a pharmacy discount card that can
help them save money on prescriptions.

3. Moving

Your parents
may need to relocate or renovate their current residence to accommodate their
needs. Your parents may need wider doorways and ramps to enter and exit the
home safely if they need to use a wheelchair or walker. Their bathtub may need
to be replaced with a walk-in shower to prevent falls. The handles on kitchen
cupboards may need to be changed to ensure easy access since some people have
difficultly turning knobs as they age. 

Kitchen counters may also be too high if
one of your parents is using a wheelchair. Older adults who do not need
assistive devices to walk may still find it difficult to climb stairs. If your
parents opt to remain in their existing home, they may need to have a stairlift
installed. If your parents can’t afford to renovate, they may need to move to a
home suited to their needs. Work with them to find a suitable property close to
family and friends to retain their social network.

4. Legal

important to talk to your parents about the legal documents they need. Everyone
should have a will to ensure their wishes are respected after they pass away.
Their will determines who inherits their property and money. Without a will, it
can take years to settle an estate.

A medical
directive is a legal document that explains what care a person wishes to
receive if they develop serious medical issues. A medical directive will
determine whether they are put on life support if they are seriously injured.
Your parents should consider their wishes and secure a medical directive. They
should also appoint a healthcare power of attorney and authorize someone to
make medical decisions on their behalf if they are unable to.

Your parents
may also opt to choose a power of attorney to handle financial matters. They
can authorize their power of attorney to pay bills and sign documents. This
ensures their financial matters will be addressed if they’re injured.

5. Final

Your parents
can opt to plan their funerals to ensure their wishes are respected. This can
be challenging to discuss, but it can be reassuring for your parents to look
after their final arrangements. Pre-planned funerals prevent grieving family
members from making difficult decisions after they have passed away. It also
prevents conflict if family members disagree about the final arrangements for
their parents.

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