With life expectancy climbing higher every year – it’s currently 79 years old in the state of Maryland – one of the primary concerns on the minds of adult children everywhere is how to deal with elderly parents. So, it should come as no surprise that one of the questions we often hear is, “What are the difficulties of caring for an aging parent?” Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will address some of those difficulties, as well as steps you can take to help alleviate some of the burdens of caring for your elderly parents.
What Are the Difficulties of Caring for an Aging Parent
“Caring for an aging parent is never easy,” says Sue Erskine, Seniors Helping Seniors. “Besides the time commitment, conflicts often arise as parents struggle to maintain independence.”
Finding Time for Yourself
“Helping an older parent is rewarding but can easily become a source of chronic stress,” writes Leslie Kernisan, MD MPH, Better Health While Aging. “Because family caregivers are often busy, they can easily neglect their own needs and wellbeing, which can jeopardize their own health, and also affect their ability to care for and connect with their older parent.”
It can all be pretty overwhelming at times. So, it is important to learn strategies to help you cope with your new responsibilities. These can include joining a support group (in person or online), asking friends and family for help, setting boundaries, and allocating time to your own selfcare.
Having the Difficult Conversations
One of the hardest parts of dealing with an elderly parent is having the difficult conversation and letting them know that you are concerned. In fact, when it comes to elder care struggles, “communication issues rank high,” says Kim Acosta, A Place for Mom.
“Most people benefit from learning and practicing better communication skills, to better manage these relationship dynamics,” says Kernisan. For tips on how to have these difficult conversations, read our blog “How to Deal with Elderly Parents.”
A Parent Who Wants to Remain at Home
For many aging adults, the thought of moving to an assisted living facility or a nursing home/long term care facility and the loss of independence is incredibly scary. In fact, 90 percent of adults prefer to stay at home, also known as aging in place, according to aginginplace.org. “Many are choosing to stay in their homes and age in place for as long as possible to avoid moving to senior-care communities,” writes Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D., the National Aging in Place Council. Of course, this also brings added challenges to those adult children caring for their elderly parents.
For tips on caring for a parent at home, read our blog “How Do I Protect My Elderly Parents at Home (Aging in Place)?”
A Parent Who Refuses Help
“For families, elder care is often one of those difficult topics,” says Jeannette Franks, retired professor of ethics, grief, and gerontology. A study at Penn State University found that 77 percent of adult children believe their parents are stubborn when it comes to taking advice or asking for help with daily tasks. But that should come as little surprise. No one wants to admit they are growing older and may no longer be able to care for themselves, losing much of their independence.
Knowing When to Plan Ahead
When trying to answer the question “what are the difficulties of caring for an aging parent?” it can be incredibly beneficial to plan ahead.
“Planning ahead tends to reduce later stress, hassles, and sometimes expenses,” writes Kernisan. But it is often difficult to know when to start. However, being well-informed about estate, elder law, and long term care planning is essential in today’s society, as more than 10,000 people turn 65 in the United States every single day. As a general rule of thumb, it is best to start looking into your options when your parent has turned or is approaching 55 years of age, or has experienced a serious medical issue requiring care.
“The first indication that a parent is struggling may be a holiday visit where things just don’t seem right,” says Arksine. “Mail is piled up, food in the refrigerator has long past expiration dates or there are unexplained bruises, perhaps from a recent fall.”
Here are some other red flags that your aging parent may need some assistance.
|Frequent injuries and unexplained bruises||Changes in mood or extreme mood swings||Looks disheveled or wearing tattered clothing|
|Late payments or bounced checks||Little to no energy||Loss of interest in hobbies or other activities they once enjoyed|
|Forgetting to take medications||Increased confusion or noticeable memory loss||Broken or damaged items around the home|
|Missing important appointments||Depression||Poor personal hygiene|
|Cluttered or dirty home, especially if it is normally neat and tidy||Extreme weight loss||Trouble getting around|
“If you notice any of these signs, write down your concerns. Talk with your siblings and other relatives, or perhaps plan an elder care family meeting,” advises Acosta. It may be time to also talk to an experienced attorney.
Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Long Term Care Planning
You don’t need to struggle with the question – what are the difficulties of caring for an aging parent. You can trust PathFinder Law Group, a law firm based in Towson, Maryland specializing in Estate Planning, Elder Law, and Long Term Care Planning, to help you every step of the way. Our team provides legal guidance that comes from the heart and our solutions are tailored to fit your individual needs.
- Estate Planning – In its simplest form, an estate plan is a legal contract that designates how your wealth will be handled after passing away. However, the plan outlines so much more, including how you would like to be cared for as you grow older and the best tax options for your assets. An estate plan is the best way to ensure that all your wishes are met and your wealth is distributed at its fullest potential.
- Elder Law – Aging adults have different legal needs than younger adults. Elder law is estate planning specifically for people who are above the age of 55 years old. Elder law combines elements of estate planning, long term care, asset protection, adult guardianship (conservatorship), trusts, probate, assisted living and nursing home care, and much more. The goal is to develop a comprehensive plan that preserves assets while also taking into consideration required medical services and personal care for the individual’s health and wellbeing.
- Long Term Care Planning – Long term care includes a variety of services designed to help an individual live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities themselves – getting dressed, making meals, driving, etc. – as the result of injury, illness, or age. Long term care planning is simply thinking ahead and strategizing for these inevitable needs.
To contact PathFinder Law Group about your elder law, estate planning, or long-term care planning needs, please complete our Contact Us form, call (443) 579-4529, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to guide you through life’s milestones in a way that is compassionate and reassuring.
- Acosta, Kim. “18 Signs Your Aging Parent Needs Help.” A Place for Mom, 22 Mar. 2020, www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/parents-need-help.
- Acosta, Kim. “What to Do When Elderly Parents Refuse Help.” A Place for Mom, 3 July 2021, www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/parents-wont-listen.
- Erskine, Sue. “Caring for Aging Parents.” Seniors Helping Seniors, 7 July 2016, https://www.homecarebyseniors.com/caring-for-aging-parents-presents-unique-challenges/.
- Kernisan, Leslie. “9 Types of Issues to Address When Helping Aging Parents.” Better Health While Aging, 16 June 2021, https://betterhealthwhileaging.net/what-to-address-when-helping-older-parents/.
- “The US Population Is Aging.” Urban Institute, 3 Apr. 2015, www.urban.org/policy-centers/cross-center-initiatives/program-retirement-policy/projects/data-warehouse/what-future-holds/us-population-aging.