There is a moment in life most of us have to face – a role reversal between us and our parents once they reach a certain age. This is one of the biggest challenges in life, both for the family and the caregivers. The parents, once the pillars of the family are now turning into complete strangers, rundown and behaving like children, their old age brings on the first signs of dementia. Some topics are hard to go through but they have to be raised – and this is a straight talk about aging in the family and parenting your parents.
• The Issue of Emotional Pain
The moment you start taking care of your parents or leave them in the hands of caregivers can be a source of emotional anguish on several levels. The most prominent one is felt on the side of the parents – as they perceive they are slowly but surely losing dignity.
Fears and disappointments will lead to tragedy as the elderly family members approach their final days, so you have to do everything you can to make this transition as painless as possible. You need to learn how to enjoy the rest of your time together and focus on all the good things.
Try to evoke positive emotions – encourage their competitive spirit by playing cards or other board games and try to have constructive conversations about things that are unrelated to the current condition. Keeping their mind occupied for as long as you can really helps dampen any emotional pain.
Furthermore, you have to curb your own emotional anguish, as well as the one felt by other family members – for example, leaving your parents in the hands of caregivers may bring on feelings of betrayal or depression due to the acknowledgment that nothing can stay the same. Venting these feelings from time to time is fine, but you have to keep them in check for the sake of everybody else.
• Delaying The Inevitable
Thankfully, there are ways to help your parents keep their minds and bodies in mint condition. First of all, if any of your parents have a bad habit – like smoking or drinking, try to do everything in your power to encourage them to leave these habits behind – they actually help advance dementia, not to mention a whole endless list of other medical issues.
You may also consider enrolling them in a fitness program with people who know how to treat the elderly and their vast variety of capabilities and needs. Your parents do not have to be athletes at their age, but crisp physical condition will also help make them sharper and keep them in a better mood.
Furthermore, depression is a real killer and if your parent starts feeling down, seek proper treatment for them as soon as possible. If they react overly-negative to the home for the elderly, it might be the best course of action to bring them back home into their known environment.
This is where they will truly feel grounded and more secure. Of course, if you cannot take care of them all by yourself, there are many experts in home care who will come to your address on a daily basis who can help take the load off your hands.(1)
• Do Not Underestimate Blood Pressure
Managing your parent’s blood pressure may sound like one of many things that will have to be taken care of, but this is of a higher priority than most, and more urgent to be aware of than you may know. In fact, scientists have discovered that avoiding high blood pressure between the ages of 35 and 65 can play a crucial role in staving off dementia.(2)
High blood pressure leads to stroke and this, in turn, causes brain cells to die off. Talk to your parent’s designated doctor to formulate sensible strategies to manage high blood pressure.
• About That Horrifying Financial Abuse
Above all else, keep a lookout for schemes and scams of various “institutions” that claim to take care of the elderly – they are using any opportunity they can to extract hard-earned money out of your family’s pocket and do not actually offer the necessary treatment options that reportedly come with the bill.(3)
It is much easier to track all your expenditure costs if your parents are still living at home. However, if you have to put them in the home for the elderly, carefully check all the listings and bills you get.
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