As your parents get older, chances are they’ll need your help more often – whether it’s with physical chores, organizing life’s affairs or managing finances.
The Daily Living Needs list below can help you gauge how much help your aging parents need. As a first step, assess whether each task requires no help, occasional help, regular help, or professional help. If possible, consider a team approach to care giving.
(If regular help is needed, jot down who will provide the help and on what schedule. If possible, consider a team approach to care giving. For items needing professional help, summarize existing services provided and any unmet needs.)
Daily Living Needs
- Self-care: dressing, bathing/personal hygiene, grocery shopping, meal preparation, other.
- Health and safety: recognizing symptoms that need attention, obtaining and managing medications, getting enough exercise, making and getting to appointments, processing information (doctor’s orders, test results, etc.), maintenance of smoke detectors, light bulbs, etc., being able to dial 911, other.
- Household: housekeeping, laundry, yard work, other.
- Transportation: getting to and from appointments, social events, etc.
- Financial: banking, paying bills, etc.
If no help is needed yet, set the stage for the future
If you see that no help or occasional help is needed for most items on the list your parents are in good shape and you probably don’t need a professional assessment at this point.
But that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start talking about the future. Depending on your and your parents’ attitudes on aging, death and dying, it may feel awkward to broach the subject. But it’s a relief for all parties when parents know their children plan to lend a hand, and when adult children understand their parents’ preferences on different types of eldercare and assisted living, and their wishes if they can’t care for themselves or pass away.
It’s also good to acknowledge uncertainties: None of us can read the future, and despite our best wishes, there’s much that’s beyond our control. People’s ideas and preferences often change as they get older, particularly as the realities of aging and mortality set in. Also, a child might discover that her intent to “do everything mom or dad needs” is not realistic, especially if she has other work and family responsibilities. Realizing ahead of time that everyone will have to roll with some punches may help parents and children alike face new challenges with grace and optimism.
Next steps if more help is needed now
If you’re overwhelmed by the number of items that require regular help, or if you have multiple unmet needs that require professional help, consider a planning meeting with your parents and caregiver team, and/or a professional needs assessment.
There are many eldercare providers and social services agencies that provide assessments. Call your Employee Assistance Program for help if you have one, or ask your parent’s doctor to recommend a geriatric specialist.