Adult children of seniors with challenges often find it difficult to help their parents make the right choices.
What happens if a caregiver begins to feel stress and finds perhaps that they are unable to continue in their role? This creates a crisis in the family where a decision may have to be made to send the senior to a long-term care facility or nursing home or other residential care facility.
It becomes a role reversal as the parent becomes the child. Parents can become dependent on their children who will then have to arrange their meals, pay their bills, take them to their doctors’ visits, sit by their bedsides at the hospital and in the nursing home. This added responsibility often leads children of seniors to feel like they belong to the “sandwich generation”, looking after their own children as well as looking after an elderly parent.
Elder care can be expensive. For example, added expenses can be incurred for personal consumable supplies, the cost of modifying the home to accommodate a wheelchair ramp and/or access to bath or shower, and safety bathroom apparatus to name a few. This can have a significant economic impact on a “sandwiched family”.
Caregiving can also impact employment security when family members have to take time off work repeatedly and sometimes unexpectedly to provide care. This unstable work routine can result in low job performance or job loss.
Honesty is necessary with seniors, but this can be a very difficult challenge. Difficult subjects, like financial matters and personal care decisions have to be discussed. Often, the elder resists change and feels they are losing control. This is particularly true when considering housing and financial matters as these are often the last control your elderly parent has. It is important to remind your elder that all decisions that she/he has made about her/his care and wellbeing will be respected.
Further, the adult child must make sure that a Power of Attorney for Personal Care and Property is in place, and that a Will has been made, explaining that to carry out his or his/her wishes, one needs to know the relevant people now, not in times of crisis. You can help simplify banking arrangements by using electronic payments, and direct deposits which can be done with the senior at home.
Elder Leaving Home
No other life event can be as devastating to an elderly person’s lifestyle, finances and security as needing long-term care. It can be equally devastating to the adult child involved in this decision. Long-term care is required if a person’s needs can no longer be met by existing caregivers or available visiting support services. Impairments can be physical, cognitive or both.
Long-term care is funded (in most cases partially), regulated, monitored and government inspected, but with increased longevity, government programs will experience ever more demand on available funds in the future.
A further option for the elder needing care is respite care, which offers a break to the adult child caregiver by allowing someone else to temporarily take over some of their caregiving duties, either at home, in adult day programs or short stay respite care. This can help to relieve some of the caregiver’s workload and stress, and help the caregiver to renew his energy to continue providing quality elder care. Community care service agencies can be of assistance in this regard. Again, cost may be a factor, so family discussion and planning are essential.