Acting as caretaker for your parents is an honourable and loving task, but the role comes with some challenges. As your parents move into old age, you might have to quickly learn how to discuss tough topics and particulars with their elderly loved ones, like health, finances, and housing.
Since these aren’t lessons we’re taught in school, it can be daunting and intimidating territory, especially given the emotional nature of the conversations. Here are a few tips to make those conversations easier for you and your parents, alleviating unneeded stress and keeping the focus where it should be: facilitating happy, healthy, and comfortable arrangements.
Talking money with family is never a fun practice, but it’s crucial not to shy away from it. When left undiscussed, conversations about finances become increasingly stressful and weighted for everyone involved. We spend our whole lives thinking about and managing our money, and putting that conversation to rest will likely bring peace to both you and your parents.
You’ll want to discuss your parents’ assets, income sources, RRSPs, living expenses and debt, and plans should they require assisted living or at-home care. When done in advance and in good health, financial planning also relieves caregivers of last-minute stress: in case of emergency or sickness, time can be spent with your parents rather than scrambling between banks and notaries to get finances in order.
Health issues are often amplified with age. A fall that used to leave a bruise could be a life-threatening event. It’s important for you and your parents to have reasonable transparency about health, while maintaining a level of privacy and dignity.
Of course, this is subjective; different situations call for different balances. But it’s important to have some basic knowledge of your parents’ health, so that if an accident happens or your parent becomes unable to communicate, you can swiftly and accurately apprise an emergency responder or doctor of the situation. This is beneficial for both parties, as you can assess and act upon red flags when you see them, and your parents can receive quicker and more comprehensive care based on the information you can provide and supplement.
It’s a familiar scene: many people are unwilling to leave the house they’ve lived in for so much of their lives, and wish to maintain their independence. This is also situational; if your parents require assistance but wish to remain in their house, arrangements will have to be made to keep them safe at home. Otherwise, you’ll have to address the often uncomfortable topic of an assisted living home.
AlarmCare, a user-friendly medical alert system, is one such option. In the event of an emergency, your parents can be in direct contact with a response team at the push of a button. The response team can then notify loved ones or emergency services. The system can also be equipped with GPS services so that you can help your parents if they become lost or disoriented. Because it can be worn as a pendant or on a belt clip, it’s a mobile, discreet, and helpful service. This setup is an excellent compromise: it allows your parents to remain in the comfort of their home without sacrificing safety.