Caring for your aging parent: 5 must-avoid mistakes

As your parents grow older, their needs tend to increase. Adult children are often ill-prepared and don't have the time, space or resources to meet the growing needs of their parents, and so caregiving can be a nightmare. But, here are five common mistakes you should avoid when caring for your parents.

Caring for your aging parent: 5 must-avoid mistakes

1. Excluding parents when making decisions

Adult children take role reversals in stride, but it's not as easy for aging parents.

Neglecting to include parents in choices regarding their care could lead to hurt feelings, resentment and lack of cooperation. Also, children can feel frustrated, embarrassed and worried about their parents, which can result in emotional clashes.

Similarly, sometimes parents may already have arrangements in place. So it's always best to include your parents in decisions that will affect them.

2. Not planning ahead

Care for aging parents can place unexpected demands on your finances.

When a parent retires, an adult child and/or his or her siblings should talk to the parent about health issues, financial resources and insurance coverage. Then all of you can assess the situation and create a plan to handle a health crisis or manage home care should the need arise.

3. Not having an alternative plan

Even a very devoted caregiver needs time off occasionally, and families should be prepared with backup measures in case the primary caregiver is unavailable.

For instance, if you have several siblings, each can take turns staying with the parent, you could hire a temporary nurse or, if possible, work from your parent's home when necessary.

Hiring a temporary nurse can reduce some of the stress you may feel from balancing your life with caring for an aging parent. But it will also be an additional expense, so the family should be prepared for it.

4. Not taking care of the caregiver

In cases where a member of the family decides to be the caregiver, it's easy to forget that he or she needs attention and support.

Taking care of elderly people can sometimes be a difficult and thankless job, especially if the person being cared for is cantankerous. Also, jobs like changing diapers can be unpleasant and can affect the eating habits of the caregiver.

The rest of the family should ensure that the caregiver gets sufficient time off to de-stress. And, if necessary, you should hire a professional to help out from time to time.

5. Taking on too much

It is very difficult to balance work, family and caring for an aging parent without compromising the quality of care.

If you're looking after elderly parents, you should be careful not to take on too much. And don't be afraid to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed.

Making it easier for you and your parents

Avoiding these five common mistakes can help make caring for aging parents easier for you and for your parents. So, if your family is trying to figure out how to care for your aging parents, keep these tips in mind.

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