Helping Aging Parents

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  One of the most challenging things to do in our adult lives will be dealing with our aging parents. Many of us are sandwiched between elderly parents and young children. Nearly half of adults in their 40's have a parent age 70 or older and we are also either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child. Take a breath 'cuz it's a lot to handle!

It's time to face the reality and be as well equipped as possible to deal with the responsibilities that come with caring for parents and children simultanously.

Besides dealing with the usual unknowns of daily life, taking care of our parents may quickly become a daily responsibility. One of the hardest things to do will be to convince a parent to move out of their long-time home or get the care they need. Often they get to a point where they cannot live on their own and they will need more support.

Here are a few basic tips to use and to help things stay in perspective while in this extremely difficult process.

IMPORTANT ITEMS TO DISCUSS:

CAREGIVING - Caregiving is a family affair. Often the child who lives closest to the parent is going to handle most of the burden simply because of proximity. It is important to gather your brothers, sisters, children and uncles and aunts together to address an ailing loved ones needs. It is good to have a meeting and discuss the problem, without the parent present, and be realistic about the situation.

THE FUTURE: It’s never too early to start to have regular conversations about what the future holds. Approach it as your problem instead of your parent's problem, If you tell them 'you have to do this, or do that’, you'll lose them. Instead say something like, 'Mom, I'm concerned about you; it makes me worried to see you like this.'" Share your concerns from YOUR perspective and try to get a plan in place.

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POWER OF ATTORNEY: Important items to address include financial issues and who will act as the elder's durable power of attorney for health care. "One of the most important things is to decide who will make the critical decisions,". Typically a family approach is recommended where one capable person be appointed as the elder's primary advocate. This person, whether a son or daughter or adult grandchild, should be in charge of financial decisions and act as the elder's durable power of attorney for health care.

FINAL WISHES:

Although difficult, take the time to talk to your parent(s) about their final wishes. Do they have plans already made or do they avoid the discussion like the plague? The more you know, the less you have to worry about the "what if's". Traditions, buriel/cremation plans, financial situations and any other wishes should be discussed and ideally documented.

The more open and honest everyone is the better the outcome. This is often a challenging time for most families but you need to try and look at the bright side. Life is short, the people that drive you crazy are the ones you're going to miss the most!

Try to stay present, get support, communicate effectively (not emotionally) and be grateful every day.  It's also good to keep in mind the way you treat/talk about your parents in front of your children. They are also learning about caring for people and what they see from you sets the tone for their general compassion.

Try to come from a place of love. This is what being an adult is all about!

Purging Kids Clothes

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If you’ve got kids, you’ve got clothes. TONS of clothes! And as your kids grow, all those little pants, tops and dresses just keeps multiplying! As clothes begin to take over their rooms, drawers and closets, it’s time for you to take back control. In an ideal world, we would all have the time to go through our kids clothes, shoes and sports uniforms and discard what is no longer needed on a regular basis. But, let’s face it, life as a parent is way too crammed with activities that we barely have time to take a shower let alone organizing our kids socks!

Here are a few basic steps to help you on your way to retain control and set up systems to help you keep on top of their clothes BEFORE they take over their rooms.

Find a common item to tackle and don’t stray. For example, if your child has overflowing drawers in his or her room, start there, in the room, next to the dresser.

  1. Grab some empty bags or boxes. Trash bags or store bags with handles work fine for donation items.
  2. Label the bags and/or boxes KEEP, DONATE, RECYCLE & TOSS
  3. Dump EVERYTHING out. Even if you think you’ve looked through there recently, do it anyway.
  4. Go through piece by piece.
  5. Dispose of accordingly

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I know this may be hard, but try to be mindful in this process. Be SELECTIVE about what you are keeping. Use your best judgment.

Anything too small should be donated and anything stained or torn should be tossed.

If you have hand-me-downs that don’t quite fit, go through those and take out what you want, place in a box or bag and label with the clothing size and or/season. Store extra items in child's closet (or garage if there is no room).

IF you have items to pass on to family or friend, make a separate pile and be sure to plan delivery of said items in the immediate future so they don’t accidentally get donated, tossed or mixed back in with the keepers. Place in a labeled bins or boxes and make arrangements to drop off as soon as possible.

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On to the organization part:

  • Take all the KEEPERS and put back in categories. Shorts, dresses, tee's. pants, swim, athletic... All like items together in their place.
  • You can also use dividers in the drawers to customize and maximize the space.

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  • Next, take ALL DONATIONS down to your car and drop off (or schedule a pick-up) ASAP!
  • TOSS unwanted items in the trash.

CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve now set your child up for a streamlined wardrobe, one that he/she can easily navigate.

With kids, it really is less = more. The less they have to choose from the easier it will be for them to make decisions. Often while trying to empower our children we end up overwhelming them with too many choices.

Take the time to do this on a regular basis; I suggest every three-four months if your kids are under ten. Mark it down on your calendar and make it a priority. Cleaning and going through your kids stuff on a regular basis is part of being a parent. Think about it as taking inventory. Now you know what items are where when you need to find them.

You’ve also done a good deed and potentially helped someone else by donating. In addition, this sets a good example for your kids to learn about being charitable and not excessive.

Now your kids will find it so much easier to get dressed when you’ve eliminated the things they don’t wear. This leads to happier more harmonious mornings for everyone!  Remember, LESS IS MORE!!! xo