As the “baby boomer” generation become seniors, we are entering an era with the largest population of aging adults in human history—a population projected to almost double from 51 million to 95 million by 2060 (Population Reference Bureau).
This means that caring for aging loved ones is a personal reality almost all of us will face. Six themes can help guide families through this emotionally challenging time.
Running through all of these themes is the need for continual, clear communication among family members, care providers and the loved ones needing assistance. Keeping open lines of communication can help prevent unspoken assumptions and unmet expectations, avoiding grievances, frustrations, and potential distress for all involved.
Six themes to guide you
- Plan and document
Discuss your loved one’s plans and priorities, and ensure they are documented. This is an essential first step and one that should be revisited regularly, as circumstances can change quickly as loved ones age.
Informed and transparent collaboration is critical among stakeholders, who often include multiple family members, friends, and external health care professionals and who may have disparate income levels, legal responsibility, and physical proximity to loved ones.
- Reduce complexity
Large homes and complex financial affairs can become more cumbersome with advanced age. Downsizing and decluttering homes and creating space for pleasurable pastimes can be a gift, allowing for the passing on of possessions and the stories behind them.
- Embrace technology
New forms of technology are constantly evolving to assist families and their aging loved ones as an enhancement of care. It is important to remind loved ones of phishing scams and hackers and that they should always call trusted family members before responding to questionable requests.
Abuse is an unfortunate reality that can take many forms, from physical to financial to psychological. Check in often on an aging loved one, not only on how they are doing but also on whether any plans that may need adjusting or updating.
- Finish well
As loved ones enter the final stretch of life, understanding how they define dignity and freedom is part of the planning process and may need to be revised as circumstances change over time.
These themes can form the basis of a loving road map for families and caregivers and those they support.
For more details on each theme, read the full report Caring for aging loved ones .
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