There is good news to share on the current health of our country: Americans are living longer than ever before. With that news comes a caveat, in that longer life spans confront us with new, and often daunting, challenges…especially when it comes to caring for an aging family member.
Sometimes, crisis strikes suddenly and responsibility for a loved one is put onto your shoulders. Your mother falls and breaks a hip, or your dad experiences a side effect of his medication. Other times, the weight of becoming a caregiver comes gradually, giving you time to plan and make arrangements for your parents. When this happens, what do you do? What steps can you take? As we watch our parents age and face the challenges that inevitably follow, there are four steps that we at Farenga Funeral Home recommend you take to prepare for your family.
1. Arm yourself with knowledge.
Today, we have the astounding advantage of the Internet and the wealth of information that right at our fingertips. Sites like Aging Parents and Elder Care offer enormous amounts of excellent information about problems your parents may encounter.
2. Watch for warning signs.
Keep an eye out for early symptoms like difficulty walking, unsteadiness, or falling. Often, older people neglect their grooming and hygiene, lose their appetite, or change their eating habits. They may begin to leave spoiled food in the refrigerator or unopened mail on the table. Forgetfulness can lead to mishandling of medication, which can lead to additional, more dangerous complications.
3. Assess the situation.
What challenges are your loved one facing? How will you address the problems? Some of the issues may be correctable. Elderly people often take several types of drugs that could s. You can look up information on prescription drug interactions, but always contact your doctor if you have serious concerns about medication.
Aging loved ones may be susceptible to vitamin deficiencies, which can cause symptoms similar to age dementia. Consult your doctor to test for deficiencies and to learn if they can be resolved by changes in medication or routine. Unfortunately, many problems are a natural consequence of aging and may not be easily corrected. Deciding what kind of assistance your loved one needs is something you will have to do as a potential caregiver. Think carefully about living arrangements, whether the person can remain in his or her own home, or if you must take the jarring step of moving to a facility, in Astoria or beyond.
4. Prepare prior to the problem.
Some elderly people have the wisdom to make plans for their inevitable health and potential living problems, while others may not. It is all too common for a person in declining health to deny the situation at hand, and not have the documents and other information you will need. It may be a difficult conversation to have, but you should ask your parents about their wishes, medical history, and financial history so that you can help them receive the best care down the road. You can also take steps to help them preplan and save for their funeral service, so you both have less to worry about. Furthermore, many adults with aging parents never see the inside of an assisted living facility until they need one and there is little time to consider options. It’s always better to do preemptive research about resources here in Astoria, to ensure you’re informed when facing a decision.
The biggest challenge when you switch roles and become the caregiver for your parent, or parents, is to provide the type of caring and compassion they require while still maintaining a life of your own. It’s not easy, but it’s possible. We are always available to assist you with questions or concerns about how to best care for your loved one. You are welcome to visit us at any one of our two locations in Astoria and Queens to discuss preplanning a funeral service with your loved ones, keeping them involved and ensuring their final wishes are seen through.
Contact us today for additional resources and support.