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If you are a parent who is just starting out your life’s journey with your young family, you most likely have a full schedule around the clock. Depending on things like family composition, ages of children, work schedules, school functions and extracurricular activities, there can be very little wiggle room for changes or adjustments to your life. However, when the time comes that there is a need involving a senior member of your family, such as an aging parent, those changes become necessary. You realize that you must find a way to make things work so that you can care for them as well as your own family.
MEETING THE NEEDS OF AN AGING FAMILY MEMBER
The aging process is inevitable and different for everyone. Many seniors remain independent and active all of their lives. This has become particularly true in recent decades thanks in large part to the advances in health improvements and modern medicine. Although such discoveries have gone a long way in helping many seniors to live more active and fulfilling lives, physical and mental health issues related to aging can hinder others. In these instances, it may become necessary for you to make some decisions regarding the care of your loved one.
TAKING EVERYONE INTO ACCOUNT
Of course, your first consideration will be what is on the best interest of your family. This includes the parent needing care as well as your spouse, yourself, and your children. By making the decision as a family to include the senior parent as a member of your household, you are changing the family dynamic in a way that will require some level of adjustment by all family members within the home. It will be a major change for the newest member of your household as well, and every effort must be made to ensure that he or she feels welcome and loved. It is important that they not have cause to feel like a burden on their family or to feel that their presence is unwanted or troublesome. Such feelings can negatively impact any waning health or mental health issues they may be dealing with.
KEEPING YOUR SENIOR ACTIVE AND INVOLVED
One of the best ways to ensure a healthy transition for everyone involved is to include all household members in family activities whenever possible. This may mean a bit of compromising on some regular activities or making special plans occasionally to specifically include your senior. This will go a long way in showing them that they are loved and wanted. Everyone needs to feel included and appreciated. It is a huge boost to self-esteem, and a necessity for good mental health is a healthy sense of self-esteem. Some simple yet effective ways to do this can include:
Planning a family fun night once a week or so. Watch a movie together (either at home or at the cinema), go out to dinner, enjoy board games, card games, etc.
Invite friends or family members over to visit and share memories and to catch up with one another.
If your senior is a sports fan, arrange an afternoon of watching football/baseball/soccer, and have some friends over to amp up the fun.
Depending on the health of your elder family member, activities may be added or planned according to their specific preferences or needs. The main point is to keep them active and feeling vital and involved with the family and others in a social circle. Never force them to participate in any activity or event that they don’t wish to be involved in though. They will have good days and bad days just like everyone else. As long as this doesn’t become a regular issue, it is important to allow them their freedom to do as they feel. However, if they become more withdrawn and uninterested in social interaction, this could be a sign of depression or declining health. Encourage them to speak with their health care provider about it, or do so yourself.
DON’T LET CHILDREN FEEL NEGLECTED
Having a new household member, particularly one who may require special attention or extra care, can cause children to feel as though they have been forgotten. While they may understand that the senior needs additional attention, they can grow to miss the “regular” routine of their previous family life. Make sure to set aside time to spend doing things with your children. You can find some great tips on keeping your family as close as ever at www.momsupsndowns.com/three-ways-spend-quality-time-family. You will find that this time with your family will help to recharge your own batteries as well.
HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT ALL THE CHANGES HAPPENING
Remember that it isn’t only your family that will be affected by moving your parent into your home. As an independent adult, your parent will also be adjusting to some big changes. While they will almost assuredly be grateful and happy to be with you, they will have some questions and concerns of their own. Make sure you sit down and discuss openly anything they may wish to talk about. The AARP has published a helpful list of discussion topics on their website (https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/home-care/info-2018/living-with-aging-parents) to help both parties open up and talk about all the changes that will be taking place.
MAKING THE TRANSITION TO ASSISTED LIVING
When the time comes that your parent needs more care than you are able to provide, choosing the right living arrangement for them will be of the utmost importance. A reputable senior living community will ensure that your loved one will remain active and vital while receiving the best in health care like www.pegasusseniorliving.com. You will want to visit a number of facilities with your loved one in order to make the choice together. Once they have made the move into assisted living, it will be important that you remain present in their life with frequent visits, phone calls, and trips out of the facility as permitted. Making sure they know that they are not forgotten is imperative to their continued good health and well-being.
MAKE THEIR GOLDEN YEARS HAPPY ONES
Just as our parents loved and cared for us at the beginning of our lives, so we have the privilege of doing the same for them in their golden years. While it may require some adjustments, our hearts – and theirs – will be full with the knowledge that the love instilled in us by our parents is being joyfully returned to them at a most precious time of their lives.