Pella Chronicle

Health

May 3, 2013

How to prepare for the transition from child to decision-maker

Pella —

The commandment “Honor thy father and thy mother” often comes to mind when dealing with aging parents.
Most children with aging parents strive to follow that commandment but find it challenging to know the best way to help parents retain their dignity and maintain as much independence as possible. For many, this can be our first experience in transitioning from child to decision maker. 
Although your parents may be fully capable of caring for themselves, as they age you may realize they occasionally need support to accomplish tasks they used to  handle alone. They may begin to need increased assistance  even though they continue to live independently in their own homes. 
If you live near your parents, you may be able to support them with a variety of routines such as:
-Sorting medications to make it easier for them to take them as prescribed
-Shopping for food and personal items
-House cleaning
-Doing laundry
-Paying bills and managing finances
If your parents seem unable to handle these types of tasks, it might be time for them to move in with a primary caregiver (usually a family member) or consider outside assistance, such as home care services. 
Another important component that is often overlooked is social interaction. Do your parents talk to others during the day? We often focus too much on the physical components of aging and forget that human relationships, conversation and interaction are good for the soul! 
Other housing options include moving into assisted living,  a supervised community for older adults, or even into full-time residency in a skilled-nursing community. 
When choosing a community for your parents, it’s important to involve them in the conversation and selection process as much as possible. The ability to make even small choices reassures parents that they still have control over their lives.

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