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How to Care for Adult Parents

Step 1

Review needs. Take a long, hard look at your parents' lifestyle. Make a list of all their daily activities and observe them as they go about them. If your parents are healthy and able to move around, they can probably do their own grooming. But they may need assistance to prepare meals or get around in public. Carefully observe and assess which activities they are able to perform independently. Find out the areas where they need help to cope.

Step 2

Communicate. Talk to your parents openly about what they’d like to be assisted with. Allow them to decide the areas they’ll manage on their own. Respect their decisions that seem reasonable, and discuss the ones that appear impractical. Ask them how they want their financial and legal issues handled. Practice empathetic listening to be able to understand their innermost fears and frustrations.

Step 3

Make arrangements. Depending on what help is required, make the necessary arrangements. Hire a cook to plan and prepare meals. Set up a system for managing their financial transactions and payment of their bills. Make sure you act on informed decisions and not on impulses. If your parents agree, obtain the power of attorney to make financial, legal and medical decisions for them.

Step 4

Provide information. Keep your parents informed about the system you’ve set up for them. Write out a list of people they can contact and their telephone numbers. Include the name and phone numbers of your parents’ doctors and at least two neighbors. Place this list in a place that’s easily accessible to your parents and show them where it’s kept.

Step 5

Be there. Call on your parents regularly. Spend time and give them emotional support. Be aware of your own limitations, though, and enlist help from other family members and friends on those occasions when you are unable to cope alone.

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