You know your parents are getting older, but are you prepared to step into a decision-making role if a sudden health emergency were to happen?
Do you know where your parents keep important documents? What are your parents’ care preferences and do they have the money to pay for their care? Do you know what your parents’ thoughts are on end-of-life care or life support?
While these questions may seem daunting or too far away to consider, many aging parents haven’t thought about their future care needs, and a sudden health change could cause even more stress without a plan in place.
In this post we’ll briefly cover early warning signs, how to have “the talk” with your parents, and how to start an elder care plan. We're also offering free copies of key elder care plan documents - see the form below.
Early Warning Signs That Your Aging Parents Might Need More Care
Changes in behaviour, mood, and energy levels
There can be reasons for you or a loved one to go through a change in behaviour or mood, or to have decreased energy. However, a sudden change or prolonged change can be a sign of early dementia or other age related health conditions.
As we age, we lose bone mass or density. This loss affects our ability to walk, get out of bed, and get up from the toilet. Our mobility is something we use every day. If your aging parents become too weak to perform their daily routines, they may require physical therapy to improve their mobility, or home health aides to assist them when required.
Social isolation and loneliness
Many factors can cause aging parents to withdraw from social activities, but the negative effects of isolation and the loneliness that can ensue cannot be ignored. Isolation and loneliness can be the cause of and result of mental illness that can be debilitating.
Our memory will change over time, but memory loss that leads to dangerous driving or fear of wandering cannot be ignored. If your aging parents are asking the same questions over and over again, getting confused about why they enter into a room, or losing track of where they put things, this could be a sign that they need some assistance for daily living.
Home maintenance challenges
One of the first signs that an aging parent is having difficulty completing their daily routines is a home that does not meet their usual standards of cleanliness.
Difficulties with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Activities of daily living (ADLs) are classified as tasks we must accomplish every day to meet a basic standard of living. ADLs include:
Hygiene: the ability to bathe and groom oneself, as well as brush our own teeth and hair.
Toileting: the mental and physical ability to use the toilet.
Dressing: the ability to select and put on clothes to suit different occasions.
Feeding: the ability to feed oneself.
Ambulating: the ability to change position (i.e. from lying down to sitting to standing) and walk independently.
How to Have “The Talk” With Your Parents
It’s important to start the conversation about elder care as early as possible to ensure both you and your parents have time to adjust. So, how do you have “the talk” with them?
Some aging parents are aware that having a plan in place will benefit both you and them. However, many aging parents think that a plan for their aging process means they are giving up their right to independence. Planning ahead allows you to create a partnership with your parents in the decision making process.
One tactic to bring up the conversation without too much confrontation is to create your own elder care plan and share it with your parents to discuss what you want in the future vs what they want in the future.
Having the difficult conversations now, while everyone is of sound body and mind, means your parents will have a say in their quality of life as they continue to age. An elder care plan is not a sign of frailty, it is the plan that keeps your parents in control.
Elder Care Planning - Where to Start
There are many important documents that you will need to make decisions with your aging parents. Some are obvious like health card information, doctor information, medical history, will, and financial records. Other information like computer passwords and email passwords is also important to collect.
One list of all important contacts involved in your parents’ care is a resource that your family will use. Include contact information for day programs, senior centres, power of attorney, family members, neighbours, caregivers, home nurses, pharmacy, hospital, dentist, and doctors.
Keeping all of your parents’ emergency information in one place will be helpful during any high-stress situations. This includes basic information like their full name, home address, telephone number, date of birth, place of birth, primary language, drivers license number, vehicle information (make, model, license plate), health card number, blood type, allergies, and medications.
Emergency contact card
Something that everyone should carry with them is an emergency card for their wallet. If your parents ever get lost or have a medical emergency, this wallet card means their important information can be found right away.
To request your own copy of these elder care planning documents simply fill out the form below:
We know this was a lot of information to take in. If you need help understanding the care options available for your parents or how to plan ahead for the what-ifs, give us a call 24/7 at 1-800-85MAVEN. Our experts are passionate about helping families plan for, receive, and thrive with health care for aging seniors.
As experts in elder care, we offer a free learning session in Toronto, Ontario where we discuss elder care planning in further detail, including the legal and financial aspects that need to be considered, and we provide the documents discussed.
If you’re interested in learning more, tell your Human Resources (HR) team to reach out to a Mavencare representative at 647-484-9242 to set up your company’s free learning session.