Today, people are living longer than ever before, and most will surpass the current average life expectancy of 78.6 years. While this means that many of us are fortunate to have parents as a part of our lives for longer, it also means facing the possibility of becoming a primary caregiver for at least one of them. Today, more than 40 million Americans provide care to an elderly parent or family member, and long-term caregiving takes a toll on a caregiver’s physical and emotional health.
Assist with Activities of Daily Living
Depending on their health and mobility, your loved one may need regular assistance with basic activities of daily living. These include, but are not limited to, eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, and moving from room to room. As your loved one ages, their ability to perform these tasks may deteriorate.
Chances are that as your loved one ages, they will become unable to drive themselves or take public transportation. Providing and coordinating transportation to medical appointments and social engagement will need to be worked into your daily schedule.
Coordinate and Manage Medical Care
As a long-term caregiver, the health and well-being of your loved one are paramount. Caregivers are responsible for making and attending doctor appointments, administering and managing medications, and addressing sudden health or behavior changes. Be sure to have a team of trusted physicians and health professionals you can consult regarding your loved one’s health.
Provide Mental Engagement and Physical Activity
Providing seniors with regular mental engagement and physical activity will not only keep the mind sharp and the body healthy, but it also helps to prevent depression and loneliness. While providing care for a loved one, it is essential incorporate daily activities that promote mental and physical health. Local senior centers, libraries, and councils-on-aging are excellent resources for finding ways to help your loved one stay active and engaged.
Assess Finances and End-of-Life Planning
Before they are unable to have the conversation, discuss and assess your loved one’s financial situation and end-of-life plans so that you are equipped to take on the role of financial caregiver when the time comes. Enlist the help of the family financial advisor or lawyer to ensure that all of their documents and finances are in order.
If you’re considering taking on the role of long-term caregiver for your loved one, seek help and advice from their medical team and other caregivers. Don’t be afraid to explore other options like senior living communities, where your loved one will be well-cared for.