As we grow up, we imagine leaving our parents’ house and getting out on our own. We plan on eventually starting our own family, doing some traveling and so on. What most of us do not imagine is dealing with the care of our parents as they grow older.
The figures are confirmed by study after study. As a society, we are growing older. While this is certainly good news, it also opens up a host of practical issues that most of us with aging parents have never even remotely considered.
Let’s assume your parents are in their mid sixties. You’ve noticed they are not as sharp as they used to be, but don’t really think much of it. Then the diagnosis comes in. Your mother has been diagnosed with vascular dementia.
Vascular dementia is the loss of brain function caused by a reduction of blood movement through the body due to clogged arteries. Given the American diet, it is a very common problem in the elderly. It is also a slow developing problem that can take ten years or more to play out. There is no cure.
As you put down the phone, you are faced with an entirely new aspect of life. There is no way your dad is going to be able to handle the care of your mom. You are going to have to be involved. Now what?
Welcome to the scenario millions are facing these days. As we live longer, families are confronting the unique situation where parents physically live much longer, but their health deteriorates. This leaves their kids with a highly stressful situation – learn about the issues involved in elder care and, just as importantly, the staggering cost.
If you have a parent diagnosed with dementia, the first step is to educate yourself thoroughly on the disease and the progression it will take. It is just as important to read up on the issues that arise for family members dealing with such a situation. The thing you will quickly learn is dealing with dementia is often much tougher on family members than the person inflicted with the disease.
From a practical standpoint, there is the simple cost in time and money. Practicalities may seem a side issue, but they will quickly become a major one. Even with health insurance, who has the time or money to feed another mouth and take care of a person that needs help with everything? That may sound cold, but it is something you are going to have to deal with at some point.
From an emotional aspect, are you ready to deal with this? What is this? The loss of memory and brain function will be shocking. How are you going to react when your mom no longer recognizes you or remembers you name? No matter how well you prepare yourself, it will be a brutally painful moment.
As you can surmise from this, elder care stress is going to be a huge issue for many people with boomer parents. The key to overcoming it is to educate yourself on what will happen. Also, join support groups. Discussing the situation with others going through it can make a huge difference.
Author: Alex Jensen
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