Advice About Caring for My Elderly Parents

My parents are both in their eighties.  My mother is in reasonably good health, but my father is declining.  He is unable to eat very well, and is losing weight rapidly.  He is mentally alert, but his physical decline is such that he needs help dressing and bathing.  He doesn't want to go out and be with others, because he coughs and salivates and is very self conscious about it.  He realizes he is a burden on my mother and this upsets him.  They both know that they need to be in circumstances where she can have some help caring for him and she can have a life of her own as well.

They have virtually no assets but have a reasonable steady income from pensions.  We're looking for some guidance about the type of options that can work for people in their situation.  Any advice would be welcome.

Bob in Iowa, 55

Dear Bob,

Caregiving is not an easy journey, but it is a path most of us will find ourselves on at some point in our lives.  In your situation where your mother is the primary caregiver, she will also have needs that are different from your father’s, but her needs as a caregiver are just as important. The more people you talk to regarding your specific situation, the more support and solutions you will find.

Very often when people are suffering from a specific disease, i.e. cancer, Parkinson’s, and/or dementia, it helps to contact the national association or national organization of that specific disease to find a local office where you can obtain valuable information.  In addition, these associations often offer free support for caregivers.  Realizing that you are not alone, and that you can talk with others who are dealing with a similar situation can be very helpful.  Your mother needs to tap into this so she can be as strong as possible for your father at this stage of their lives.

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