Three Critical Considerations When Caring For An Elderly Relative

Getting older is a fact of life. When most people think about their 50s and beyond, they focus on perks like retirement, investing in hobbies, and completing postponed desires like traveling the world. Although the hope is to live out your golden years in happiness and bliss, things don’t always go as planned. Many older adults have physical, emotional, and financial needs that require assistance and support from others. 

As someone who cares for your elderly relative, you want to do whatever you can to ensure they can age gracefully. Before you jump in head first to support your family member, it’s essential to understand how you can assist without compromising your health, wellness, and everyday needs. Continue reading for advice. 

What Are Their Needs?

What is it that your elderly relative needs? Although it may seem obvious, the answer isn’t always straightforward.  Many times, older adults have difficulty expressing their needs. Some are prideful or empathetic and don’t want to place a burden on their family. Others aren’t aware that they need assistance. You need to talk with your loved one, ask detailed questions, and assess their current circumstances to determine where they need help. 

Let’s say they were recently diagnosed with a long-term or terminal condition. You’d need to determine how their health impacts their daily lives. Do they need a home health aide, will you move them into your place, or is it best to send them to a nursing home? 

If their condition is terminal, do you know how to set up hospice care? Are you aware of their final wishes and funeral plans? Do you know which agencies to contact to acquire their will, life insurance, or DD214 benefits (if they served in the military)?

Are You Equipped To Assist?

Once you clearly understand your elderly relative’s needs, the next consideration is your ability to provide support. It’s common for family members to step into a full-on caretaker role without first assessing their physical, emotional, and financial status and the impact it could have on their everyday life. 

For instance, does your home have enough space for your parents? Can you foot the bill if they have more expenses than their benefits or income cover? Will your job or existing obligations suffer if you become a caretaker? If so, are there practical solutions to ease the pressure? 

As you evaluate the many facets of becoming a caretaker, you may find that you cannot assist full-time. While that doesn’t mean you can’t support your elderly relative, it may mean you can only offer to help in certain areas of their lives, like managing their finances or transporting them to medical appointments. 

What Resources Are Available? 

The final consideration when trying to support an elderly relative is available resources. While you may believe that you have to take on the world yourself, there are places you can turn to get help. The more assistance you have, the easier it will be to provide your family member with the best care (without overwhelming yourself). 

The federal and local governments often have programs for seniors and their families. Such programs can include financial assistance, affordable housing, health insurance coverage, groceries, food delivery, home improvement grants (for seniors aging in place), and more. 

Private and nonprofit organizations also offer support to seniors that include grants, scholarships, and free products and services. 

If your family member needs assistance with everyday tasks, consider resources like home health aides, assisted living communities, or nursing homes. 

Lastly, when looking into available resources to support your aging loved one, don’t forget to consider online communities and family therapy to help everyone deal with the emotional impact of this life-altering adjustment. 

When a loved one reaches a point where they can no longer care for their everyday needs, it’s natural to want to help. However, jumping in to save the day without considering all the factors can leave you and your family member in jeopardy. Ask yourself the above questions and research the most effective solutions to ensure your elderly relative gets the necessary care. 

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