By Denise Pott, LCSW, Assistance Home Care
Most of us are taught that it is important to honor our father and mother. This is a notion that comes to us through the bible and other religious texts, and is often part of religious training. Honoring our parents means to hold them in high regard as the ones who brought us into this world and raised us. Most of us put it into practice on a daily basis and remain close to our parents throughout our lives.
We generally feel that we understand this concept from an early age. We are to respect our parents and to honor their wishes. Honoring our parents also means establishing a lifelong bond and providing care when they are ill or disabled, or aged. This is something that most of us do readily, as second nature, but it can be difficult at times. What do we do if we believe that their thinking is clouded, or their judgment is impaired? How do we provide care for them if they refuse much needed help? What can we do to ensure their health and safety when they voice opposition to what we think they need? Here are three steps that may help to resolve this type of conflict.
First, talk with your parents about what they want, and do it well in advance. You may be surprised to learn that they are looking forward to moving to a senior community but most often they will tell you that they want to remain in their own home where they are comfortable and content. This is where it is important to narrow things down and ask the hard questions about what they want if they are unable to care for themselves. If they agree that at some point they may need assistance, you can move on discuss what they would want done in this situation.
The next step ideally happens many years later, when you are faced with their actual infirmity. This is the time for you to explore options. There are many ways to do this.
Fortunately, St. Louis has an excellent publication, The St. Louis Times Senior‘s Resource Guide, which lists all sorts of programs and services for older adults. Best of all, copies are free and can be picked up at many grocery stores, pharmacies, and other locations around town. In many cases, using the guide may be all that you need in order to find resources and figure things out.
If the situation is more complicated, you may wish to consult an Aging Life Care Professional, also known as a Geriatric Care Manager. These professionals are social workers, nurses, or others who have specialized training in aging and its challenges.
They can assess the situation and make recommendations to help you get the care that your parent’s need. They often stay involved with the older adult and their family over time to help deal with changes and challenges as they arise. In many cases, they can help to pake a plan that is suitable to all concerned that enables you to honor your parent’s wishes. How do you find an Aging Life Care Professional? Look for Geriatric Case Managers in the Senior’s Resource Guide, or check out their association website at www.aginglifecare.org.
Finally, once you have a plan in place, don’t forget that you must keep an eye on things to be sure that the plan is working. Continuing conversations and flexibility are the key to success. Don’t forget that needs and wants can change over time, so expect to make changes as you go along.
These tips are aimed at helping you provide the care your parents need while also honoring their wishes.
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