Helping Aging Parents

6ee533b054e1681c01c6781944783c16.jpg

  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.

6e8c243a6528d0429cfd94a99e661cbd.jpg
6e8c243a6528d0429cfd94a99e661cbd.jpg

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!

Accessible Medications

canstockphoto24276297.jpg

One very important thing to keep organized is your medications. It is crucial to stay current with these in case of emergency. Especially with kids or elderly people in your home you want to know that you have everything you need in case of an emergency.

With just a few, simple steps you too can be super organized and will no longer  have expired meds, vitamins and ointments taking up space in your medicine cabinets. So gather all your meds, first-aid kits, band-aids and vitamins and lets get started!

FIRST:

Asses your situation:

Where are all of your meds? In case of emergency, do you have everything you need in one place? If not start by gathering all meds and first-aid items, including band-aids and emergency items such as Epi-Pens or Antihistamines.

You should now think about WHERE you take your vitamins and meds and keep them in one container in that room. You can use items like plastic shoe boxes, small lazy susans or drawer organizers or whatever you may have to consolidate like items together.

I like to keep our daily vitamins and meds in the kitchen so I can take them and give to my kids at breakfast. Any meds or vitamins I take at night, I keep that in my night-stand drawer and I keep all First Aid items and extra supplies in our hall linen closet in labeled bins:

f343fe657bef1e1fdb3d7890a0fe825b.jpg

NEXT:

Gather ALL meds, first aid items, creams and vitamins. Go through all items one by one reading the dates and the pertinent information.

Any expired meds and creams should be put into one "discard" pile. Any medications you no longer use or were for a past infection or illness should also be put into the discard pile.

Take all other like items and store together in the place you will be using them. Organize by type and label for easy accessibility.

FINALLY

Getting rid of the expired stuff:

There are many improper ways to dispose of meds, like tossing in the trash or flushing down the toilet. Here is what I like to do to insure they don’t get into the wrong hands or filtered into our water system.

According to the FDA, they give the following suggestions when throwing out expired, unwanted, or unused medicines:

  • Some pharmacies have Medicine Take-Back Programs, if you have a large number of meds to dispose of, I suggest finding a pharmacy that offers this.
  • If you choose to dispose of items at home:
    • Mix medicines (do NOT crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds;
    • Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag; and
    • Throw the container in your household trash.

Before throwing out your empty pill bottles or other labeled packaging, remember to scratch out (or tear off) all information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.

In regards to expired liquids and syrups, these can be poured down the drain. Expired creams can safely be tossed in the trash.

Please take the time to do this. It is so important to take inventory on a yearly basis. You do not want to be caught unprepared.

Cheers to your health!