Our parents may seem perfectly healthy, but then one day there is a health emergency and one is left wondering what happened to those strong individuals that you could always count on? How can you manage all their needs along with your job, family and volunteer commitments?
This is a good time for reflection and to regroup, to see what can be cut from the schedule and what is important to do for our parents.
As baby boomers age, so do their parents. By virtue of the mobility of society, the boomer child may be far removed from the daily caregiving needs for their parents. This can cause multiple stressors on both the parent and the boomer child. What can one do to confront this issue?
Work on a network of people. When you are visiting your parent’s community, make sure you get to know the local health department staff, country transportation and other services that your parents may be utilizing. This way you have a contact to call if you need help.
Neighbors. Yes, former neighbors might have changed through the years, but parents’ new neighbors may be willing to help them out. Sometimes, all one has to do is ask. This is why boomer parents need to keep social contacts locally, as they have some new friends that are willing to step up to the plate and help them as they need it.
Accessible technology for their home. Your parent may need some assistance with hand rails and items that will help them age in their homes. Even a parent recovering from surgery can often times use better reading lights, books with larger print, and a walker.
Your parents may need help in purchasing clothing that is easier for them, as well as cooking utensils that make food preparation easier. Some of these items could even be an idea for Christmas presents.
K-State Research and Extension has a nice publication concerning Assistive Technology.
There is also a program designed to help producers continue to do their work by creatively adjusting their machines to fit their needs. Interested? Call us at 620-241-1523.
Clutter. Often times parents may need some help with sorting the clutter. Clutter makes it more difficult to move around the house, especially if they need to use a walker or wheelchair.
Perhaps one of the siblings can help with this more easily than the others..this might be difficult but there are safety issues to consider with excess clutter.
Communication. While the boomers are most likely using email for communicating with their children, their parents may not be interested in this type of technology at all. So boomers might get out the writing paper and write letters again..this way, the parent has mail to enjoy.
The cell phone may also be something that the boomer parent will not agree to use. Even so, if they are still driving, it is a safety necessity.
Keep lines of communication open between siblings and other family members as you move through the various transitions that are coming. Family members need to be a team to help the elder relative move through the various transitions of life.
Encourage. Remember how parents encouraged all our goals and dreams. As people age, they still have goals and it’s important for family members to know what these goals are and work together to help the parent either stay in their own home, fill out an advanced directive, or perhaps move into a retirement community.
This is all part of the circle of life, the children moving into the role of parenting their parents. It’s not an easy road, but it can be rewarding in the long run. It helps you model care giving for older community members and may encourage your own children to reach out to help their older neighbors...remember in life, what goes around, comes around.
This information was provided by the Social Aspects of Aging project team, a cooperative effort between Kansas and Nebraska Cooperative Extension Service, Family and Consumer Science.