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!

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

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It’s already February! Well basically. It’s January 31. How did that happen so fast?

Here we are in 2016. Our kids are older and changing every day. We’re older. We’re finally settled into the new year and the holidays feel like a distant memory.

As we have thoughtfully planed for the year ahead, many of us may have high expectations for ourselves (not to mention our kids!). There's probably so much going on in your life right now that you need to STOP for one moment and take a breath.

We want to accomplish all we set out to do. But first, we must set ourselves up for greatness and success. Let's start by evaluating our (often overwhelming) expectations.

Be realistic and respectful of yourself. What are your goals? Can you just make a sudden shift and turn tired old habits into new productive ones? Or, do you need to make shifts more gradually with a lot of support?

I personally like to set goals. Goals can be set small or high but there is less pressure attached to the idea of a goal, than making an "instant" shift. Know your patterns. Set smaller, easily attainable goals that will eventually lead you to the bigger accomplishments you want to make down the road. They also keep me focused.

Here are my goals for 2016:

  • Exercise at least 30-50 minutes/ 4-5 days a week
  • Take my vitamins daily and be more conscious of “white food” intake. Eat more veggies!
  • Take classes.
  • Meet new people and try new things.
  • Have lower expectations of others & try to not take things personally.
  • Practice gratitude.

I have many other things I want to accomplish (photography classes, sustainable gardening, learning another language, getting my Nutritionist certification…) but I feel these few are the most important to get me in a good head space. I have simplified all of my goals into these six "self-improvement" goals, this way, I am setting myself up for success. The more success I have, the more likely I am to set and maintain higher goals down the road.

Most importantly be nice to yourself! If you are making positive changes and listening to your inner voice, you will feel so good! Be your best self and give yourself a pat on the back for making any positive changes in your life.

If you can simplify your life one goal at a time, you cannot fail. Take one step at a time and believe in yourself. You are the master of your choices!

Blessings and love,

Stacy