Saturday, May 01, 2010

Parenting Your Parents

If you are not already, you may someday find yourself taking care of your aging parents. It is not an easy task by any means, but one that is necessary in order to ensure their quality of life remains intact---especially if they become disabled. As primary caregivers for our parents, my husband and I have gone through a crash course on the subject.

I'd like to offer some tips on elderly care:

If you are not in a position to take care of your parents, make sure you do as much research as you can on nursing homes/assisted living facilities. They are NOT all the same.

Stay on top of your parent's nursing home and medical care. Visit as often as you can to let staff know you care about what's going on. Sadly, many elderly are "dumped" into nursing homes by family members, who rarely come back to visit them.

Know what medicines are being prescribed. If you don't know what they're for, ASK.

Know the medicare and medicaid laws as it relates to your state. What we discovered is some laws are different from state-to-state. This is especially important to know if you must transport your loved one to a different state.

Don't be afraid to challenge the system. When my mother-in-law sustained some bruises that no one could explain, we filed a grievance with the County Social Services and then the State. As a result, one nurse was fired---another resigned and my mother-in-law was watched much more closely. Of course, we weren't the most liked family after that but you do what you have to do in order to protect your loved one and ensure their safety and well being.

Know your parent's history. I think this is especially important if you're loved one has dementia because they won't be in a position to answer for themselves. When my husband tranferred his mom from one facility to another, he was asked a lot of questions about her and her family history. Some of it he knew--some he didn't.

Keep a journal. Don't count on your memory to remind you of things. Write it down and you'll know for sure and be sure to always get names of people involved in your parent's care.

If you have anything else to add, please feel free to do so.

3 comments:

Regina Baker said...

Great information Beverly! I was the caretaker for my grandmother and later on my Dad, not to mention my husband too!

It definitely has to be a labor of love. Not everyone is capable of taking care of the elderly because of limited patience, I've read some horror stories about nursing homes and even children who have abused their parents.

We should also remember, if we're so blessed, that one day we will be in their shoes and hope someone will be as nurturing to us and we have been to others.

Evelyn Kalinosky said...

Beverly,

As someone who has been taking care of my mom for the past 8 years you offer some very sound and compassionate advice. My mom lived with me (and then my husband when I remarried) for 4+ years and she was relatively independent, but couldn't live on her own. She had her gig, though, and I encouraged her to be as independent as possible.

That all changed when she broke her hip and developed subsequent pneumonia. The independence was gone and I tried to take care of her myself; eventually hired in-home aides to help me out; and finally had to accept the fact (after she broke her other hip - severe osteoporosis) that the care she required was more than I could provide at home. For the past 3 years she's been in a nursing home and I've had private duty aides there to supplement as best I can. You are 100% correct that we need to stay on top of things and be an advocate for our parent's care. It's not easy, but you do the best you can.

I went through a severe grieving process and a lot of guilt that I wasn't able to care for my mom at home, but in time realized that my ultimate responsibility as her daughter was to her BEST care, and that meant somewhere other than home. Every case is different and we need to support whatever decisions people make.

Thanks, Bev.

Mark Allen said...

Beverly,

Completely agree, trying to remember everything is just impossible. Keeping the journal is a great idea for all of us to implement.

Thanks again for the great posts.

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