We live in the age of the “silver tsunami.” In the United States and many other developed countries around the world, the population is rapidly aging, a development that will impact everything from workplaces to healthcare services. It also means more adult children than ever face managing senior care for their aging parents.
The term “senior care” can mean different things to different people. As they age, seniors face a host of issues that can make their golden years more difficult. They include chronic health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. Many also experience reduced mobility and coordination that can impact them in a variety of ways, including placing limits on what they can do with daily activities as well as traveling (including the travel needed to relocate to another home).
Adult children can get as stressed as the seniors themselves in trying to solve these issues. But taking advantage of certain services and putting some smart tips into action can help resolve many senior care issues.
Ways Adult Children Can Meet the Challenges of Senior Care
The following provides an overview of some of the ways adult children can manage the challenges of senior care for their aging parents. Adult children who find themselves in this situation are certainly not alone. Data from the federal government shows that Americans 65 years old and up represented 16% of the population in 2019, but will make up 21.6% of the population by 2040.
Know Their Needs
The first step in meeting the challenges of providing senior care involves assessing the needs of the people involved. Seniors can experience a wide variety of health-related issues, but also may have financial issues or even experience loneliness. Whatever the case, an open and honest conversation about their needs and expectations is a good place to start. Adult children should have a detailed understanding of any issues their parents face, as well as medications they take and health services they require. This requires the parents’ input and feedback.
Make a Plan
A care plan should cover all the areas where seniors may need help. This can include many activities, ranging from regular medical care (such as sessions with a physical therapist) and help with household chores to having a travel companion during any trip they take or assistance in relocating to a new home that better suits their needs. Adult children should not leave out issues such as social engagement and daily activities that help seniors maintain their health (both mental and physical).
Many tasks might fall to family members, such as helping with household chores or making runs to the grocery store. It’s important to delegate these responsibilities as evenly as possible among family to avoid creating caregiver stress. Over long periods of time, caregiver stress can lead to worse problems for the adult child who act as caregivers, including burnout and even depression.
Bring in Professionals
Having a good primary care physician is important, but professionals can provide invaluable assistance in many other areas of senior care. This includes services such as cleaning, grocery delivery, and flight nursing for trips or medical services. RN flight coordinators can also help with trip booking and special accommodations. Additionally, the Aging Life Care Association (ALCA) offers Aging Life Care Managers who are trained to assess seniors’ needs, create personalized care plans, coordinate services, and advocate for their well-being. ALCA professionals can be a valuable resource for adult children navigating the complexities of senior care and feeling overwhelmed.
Having a good primary care physician is, of course, a central part of a care plan. But professionals can provide the best levels of senior care in many other areas. This includes almost every facet of senior care. For example, a cleaning service can help families better manage their aging parents’ home. Grocery delivery can cut down on how much the seniors have to drive. And flight nurses can accompany seniors on trips to family get-togethers, vacations or for medical services in other areas. RN flight coordinators can also book trips and arrange any special accommodations for seniors in advance.
Find Community Resources
In addition to professional services, adult children should also search for community services that can help them better manage senior care. This includes senior centers, meal delivery services if necessary, and free transportation services (such as transport to doctor’s appointments). These free community services solve two issues at once: they provide better services to seniors while also taking some of the burden off family caregivers.
Meeting the challenges of senior care for aging parents can become both physically and emotionally draining. Adult children can help both themselves and their aging parents by practicing self-care. That can include taking breaks, finding time each day to spend on something the caregiver enjoys, getting support from other family members, and joining an online or in-person caregiver support group.
These are just some of the tips that can help adult children better meet the challenges of senior care for their aging parents. By planning and taking some smart steps, adult children can help their parents better enjoy their golden years.