At the Parenting Your Parent Panel: A Crash Course in Sanity, Angel On My Shoulder Founder, Carol Freeborn, helped many families gain insight and understanding of how to care for aging relatives.
Here are her answers to some of those difficult questions posed on the topics covered.
How would a private case manager help me in managing my parents needs as they age?
Private case managers help you to see and understand behaviors in our aging parents. Loss of control and independence brings out the worst in all of us. At Angel On My Shoulder, we assist our families and clients with safe, practical choices.
As a mother myself, I know first hand that it was a natural reaction to want to “mother” my parents when I first began making choices for them – especially when under stress or time constraints.
Case managers can assist in delivering unpleasant news or choices. Allowing the children to remain children, and not have a forced role reversal.
The most important assessment method is listening to how your parents presently manage their affairs, and how they feel about change.
Don't think just because someone is not talking that they do not have an opinion. Ask direct, open-ended questions. This takes more time, but provides a much smoother transition to the changes that may need to be made.
What do you do when you know your parents need help, but they will not allow anyone but the children help them?
Do not put off having discussions about the future. Talk with them honestly about what you are seeing, and ask them what they want to do.
Contact their Primary Care Physician for a consultation. If they do not have one, make this a priority.
Above all, start slow and don't expect a single all-purpose solution. This is an ongoing process, and as time passes, their needs will change.
What do I do first when I notice my parent's memory is changing?
There are many factors to consider, but it is important first to identify what it is you are noticing, and talk with them about it. It is a very lonely world for a person when they think they have to hide memory loss.
Next make a medical appointment with their doctor, and evaluate what stress may be going on in their life that may be contributing to memory change. For example, they may have an illness.
Stress of aging can cause memory loss. Many families notice their loved ones improve once they receive added support in the home, or at an assisted living facility.
How to help my parents stop driving? Are they not safe?
Just because someone is aging does not mean they cannot drive.
Consider your reasons for them not driving. Talk with them about your fears. And finally, contact their physician and make appointment with their doctor to discuss.