Caring for our aging parents can be frightening, challenging and rewarding all at the same time. For the parent requiring additional assistance, maintaining some degree of independence is crucial to their own emotional and physical well being. However, the truth about aging is that, with age, comes many life altering health complications which can lead to a greater conflict in where or when a parent should begin to relinquish some degree of dependence. For adult children, creating our own theories of aging, will provide for a cleaner transition when moving an aging parent into your home thereby assisting an aging parent in successful aging.
Commonly, the first issue, between parent and adult child, to be addressed is the issue of driving. Within major metropolitan cities, driving is not so much of an issue as it is in the U.S. cities without public transportation. For this reason, knowing when to discontinue driving rights of an aging adult is important to ensuring not only their safety but the safety of others.
In the psychology of aging, the driving rights are commonly one of the hardest issues to address with an aging parent as it generally marks the beginning of time in which a parent must relinquish some form of independence. Often, grandchildren can provide a better approach to encouraging a grandparent to give up driving and, instead, allow others to drive for them. What is important to understand is that this may be the first time in a child’s life when you must use forceful approaches in removing driving privileges from a parent who is unwilling to voluntarily give up the option to drive.
The second issue commonly addressed by children who care for their aging parents, often, comes after the loss of driving rights. This involves the scope and depth of emotional distress and depression over the realization that some degree of independence has been lost. Often because health is deteriorating, coupled with deteriorating independence, the aging parent will begin to experience a loss of self value and self esteem resulting in depression. Again, as the psychology of aging sets in, it is at this time that adult children should remain conscious of their aging parent’s change in mental health status and reach out to support groups and healthcare professionals accordingly. Tapping into our resources will assist aging parents in their own positive thinking and healthy aging.
And finally, there is an issue of finances. With advancing technology in the financial world, many aging seniors find they are unable to maintain even the most basic financial responsibilities they once had, such as balancing a checkbook. To ensure they are not destined for financial ruin, overdrafting checks or subject to identity theft, it is imperative that adult children work with the aging parent to assume, to some extent, the responsibility of their finances. Oftentimes, the best approach is to allow the parent to continue paying their own bills but ask them to relinquish the balancing and essential accounting processes to you. With that, as we care for our aging parents, obtaining a Power of Attorney is important to ensuring the adult children can intervene on behalf of the aging parent on any financial or medical issues considered urgent in nature.
As with any life altering decision, stress, anxiety, depression and excitement can all be rolled into the one experience. Caring for an aging parent is no exception. By following these three simple steps, the adult child can better equip to control, to some extent, the outcome of the transition in living arrangements. For more assistance or information regarding myths about aging and methods for improving the transition of an aging parent, visit the National Council on Aging.