Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks
Topic: Your Role in Facilitating Parents to Age in Place
On yesterday, I had an outstanding interview with Pastor Michele Irby Johnson, as we discussed helping our aging parents age in place. I was so proud to hear that she and her husband took the blinders off and relocated to be close to her aging mother. It really warmed my heart. This is confirmation that being Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate matters. I shared with her if we can help someone along the way, then our living has not been in vain…Agreed!
When I speak about taking the blinders off, it is asking you to look at your real picture. If you are 25-years old, chances are, your parents are 50-years old. If you are 40-years old, chances are, your parents are 60-years old, and if you are 50-years old, chances are, your parents are 70-years old. Have you taken the blinders off, yet?
This is the reality of the aging process, it's called the circle of life. Every good morning and every good night ages us. And if we have been blessed to see our parents age gracefully, we must prepare to care for them until the end. So, if your loved one says to you, I want to remain in my home, for as long as possible, and you are 40-years old, this is your clue to start planning for the ‘What If,’ in your life. Let me also mention this, if your family has a history of chronic conditions(heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, breast or prostate cancers) and they have had extensive medical care around these conditions, you must also look inward. We do not have control over genetics, so mindfulness of health problems in the family should be on your radar.
So what does it take to allow your parents to remain in their own home? It demands you have a true conversation about what that would look like. What is the build of the home? Are there stairs into the entrance of the home? Is the home two-story? Is there a basement?
What does the bathroom look like? Would it accommodate a walker or wheelchair? How is the kitchen arranged? Is the microwave sitting up and used often to lift hot items from a high place? Safety is the most important yardstick I can say to you.
Change! Not the coins after you break a dollar!
I must also say to you, change may take place. What change do I speak of…the change where you will have to make a decision to move your aging parents into your home, or, you will need to move into their home. This decision is difficult for some, in part, due to a lack of communication and planning. It is often a decision after a fall or injury. We must stop being reactive and make a plan. Yes, planning. Planning starts with communication, way before the need arises. It requires trust from parent to child(ren). The word estate planning use to scare me. I would hear the word estate and say, I don’t have an estate…thinking for many years it meant the mansion, the 200-acres, the Royal Royce, the 25-stallion horses, and my millions in the bank. While someone with this type of real estate would hopefully have things in order, this is not always the case. Communication with family to plan, to ensure there is an awareness of what to do, and, when to do it, is critical. As your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, I hope you take a listen to this incredible interview. Be safe, Be well, and reach out if you have questions. Interview link below.