Advice on Caring For Elderly Parents

Written by Jon Sindell

Here's advice on successfully caring for your aging parents or grandparents.AgingParents

Remember how it was when you were small? All the nights when your parents would creep silently to your bedside checking if you were OK.

Now Mom and Dad are older, you're far away and the roles are reversed. They need you, but the distance and your own family responsibilities make it tough to be there as much as you'd like. What's a caring adult child to do?

Build a network of support.

Arrange for daily telephonic reassurance contact for your parents through CONTACT USA or 717-232-3501.
Obtain referrals to a variety of elder-care resources by calling the nonprofit Children of Aging Parents  1-800-227-7294
The U.S. Administration on Aging's Eldercare Locator can help you find caregivers in any part of the country or call 800-677-1116.
Avoid Burnout from Compassion  

Start by defining the problem. The Area Agency on Aging in your parents' county can arrange for a case manager to visit your parents' home on a low-cost or no-cost basis to assess their various needs. She will advise you and your parents on how to make sense of the bewildering patchwork of organizations that offer seniors services ranging from meal delivery to transportation to shopping and home repair.

If the case manager determines that your parents need part- or full-time live-in care, be prepared since horror stories about poorly chosen caregivers abound. An unavoidable part of the selection process, according to Lorraine Sailor of the referral network Children of Aging Parents, is flying to where your parents live to personally interview candidates.

After returning home, your challenge will be monitoring your parents' care from afar. Enlist the help of a geriatric care manager and ask trusted neighbors and friends to drop in unexpectedly to check up on your folks and their caregivers. Establish with the caregiver from the start that these unexpected visits are part of the job.

Many states offer Contact Reassurance centers with volunteers to phone your parents daily. These workers provide emotional support and offer you one more way of monitoring your parents' well being. If the folks don't answer their reassurance phone call, the volunteer will contact friends or family who live near your folks, or pay a personal visit if none can be found.

Form your own moral-support network with fellow caregivers in your parents' town through online support groups on the Family Caregiver Alliance's Web site. It's a good opportunity to trade information about local resources, and add friends to your parents' support network.

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