It’s the weekend and time to make the call to your mother back home. But when she answers, her voice is slurred and she’s talking about things that don’t make sense.
Something is wrong.
Strokes can happen at any time. A myriad of medical conditions can happen at any time in men and women over a certain age.
Your mother has suddenly gotten old and you realize the clock has ticked to the time that comes to many of us. It is now she who needs looking after not you.
It is a role reversal that can create headaches, and be a shock to the system.
You can make the job easier by thinking ahead and discussing the options with your parents while they are still in sound mind. This not only helps with planning, but also lets them know that you care and are thinking about their welfare.
At the very least, you can have contact numbers on hand for elderly service providers for when the crisis comes, particularly if you live a long car ride or plane trip away. Know their doctors’ names and have a copy of their medicare numbers, if they have them.
Exchange phone numbers with one of their neighbors for emergencies and make sure you have a set of keys for their home.
Keep a list of their medication, including dosage. This includes non-prescription drugs as well as prescription drugs, as there can be side effects when drugs interact.
Once the shock wears its way out of your system, if it ever does, there are not just emotional, but financial and practical matters to consider.
Where are their important documents, like wills, kept? Someone should be made enduring power of attorney to handle financial and legal matters. All paperwork such as bank statements, records of mortgage or rent, insurance policies, taxation, benefits and welfare, should be in order.
Caring for the elderly is tough, and with life expectancy rising, the chances you will be faced with this dilemma are growing. In fact, as the population ages, caring for the elderly parents while working is set to become one of the biggest challenges facing people all over the world.
What do you do?
If they are no longer capable of looking after themselves, you can move them into your own home, but what about your spouse and children? How will they react? Do you have the space? Are you equipped to look after someone who cannot look after themselves? You may have to consider wheelchair access, and other alterations to your home to make life easier for your parent.
Perhaps the parent doesn’t want to live with you. Maybe they will refuse to leave their own home, where they may have lived all their life, despite what the Doctor orders.
They could be vulnerable if left living on their own though, so keep a close eye on them, and find out about local home care agencies. You could investigate Meals- on-Wheels, transport options, and assisted living. You may be surprised at the community resources that are available.
There could be conflict. Involve siblings in discussions, if you have any, and their husbands or wives.
Share the burden.
There’s a nursing home, or retirement village, but costs can spiral and if you are not well-off then it can be a struggle. Fees are often not included in national health services. And arrangements care can take weeks, if not months.
Will you have to take time off work? Can you take time off work?
There is a mountain of things to consider.
What’s likely to hit hardest s the emotional aspect of seeing a once active and proud parent frail, and in some cases, incapacitated?
Even a slow decline can come as a jolt.
Looking after elderly parents can be a stressful period of your life, an anxious period. And it can arrive suddenly.