Health & Wellness
Caring for Aging Parents

Caring for Aging Parents

Local resources can give you and your parents the support you all need
By Laura Carson Miller

These days, your mother struggles to remember small parts of her daily routine. Maybe your dad seems like himself, but he can't manage the daily task of cooking dinner. Or perhaps your parents are still doing great on their own, but they need some backup navigating the financial side of retirement.
No matter the details, the common denominator is an aging parent. Not only is this stage of life new for them, but caring for them is new territory for you too – after all, you're used to them having the answers.

To help you navigate your new role and your parents' changing needs, we've compiled a list of local resources that will come in handy. Their informative websites and top notch services can ensure that you and your parents get the care and support you need.

Your parents need . . .
In-home care. Your parents are still fairly active, but they could use an extra hand with errands or housekeeping.

Reach out to . . .
Synergy HomeCare. This organization provides non-medical home care. They can help with things like meal preparation, housekeeping, medication reminders and transportation to errands. They can also provide pleasant conversation and companionship, which are helpful for overall well-being and quality of life. Details: synergyhomecare.com

Your parents need . . .
An accessible home. Sometimes your parents may require modifications to their existing living space or additions, such as ramps, in order to be able to maneuver the house more easily.

Reach out to . . .
A Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) worked with AARP to develop a training designation for remodelers and contractors: the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS). These specialists can do a room-by-room assessment of your parents' home and make recommendations for modifications, such as increased lighting, additional railings, walk-in bathtubs or showers, ramps and even home elevators.
Details: Visit nahb.org/capsdirectory and browse the NAHB CAPS directory, which lists more than 50 certified specialists in the Atlanta area.

Your parents need . . .
Transportation. Past a certain point, it's safer to let someone else take the wheel, but you aren't always free to drive Mom or Dad. It helps to have an extra car and an attentive driver to get your parents to their errands or a special occasion, like a family wedding, and safely back home.

001-SidebarReach out to . . .
Atlanta Senior Assistant. Karen Adams created Atlanta Senior Assistant solely to provide companionship and chauffeur services for seniors in the Atlanta area. Many other care organizations may include transportation among their offered services, and the National Center on Senior Transportation can provide additional information and creative solutions.
Details: atlantaseniorassistant.com, seniortransportation.net

Your parents need . . .
Healthy meals. Rising food costs, a lessened appetite and even simple forgetfulness can cause seniors to miss out on healthy, regular meals. Even if they do eat regularly, studies show that on average, seniors get too many of their calories from fat, alcohol and added sugars.

Reach out to . . .
Project Open Hand. This charitable organization provides freshly cooked, nutritious meals and snacks to a variety of clients, including seniors. Whether your parents need a specially formulated menu (such as the diabetic menu, the dialysis menu, the low-fat menu or a variety of meatless menus) or standard meal options, Open Hand offers many choices. Clients can also customize the number of meals they receive: as few as two per week, and as many as 21. Your parents may qualify for Open Hand's free services, but if they are not eligible, Open Hand does offer an option to pay for the service and still enjoy the convenience and nutritional benefits.
Details: projectopenhand.com

Your parents need . . .
Hearing or vision services. When your parents consistently ask you to repeat yourself, respond with shorter answers than normal or struggle to carry on their usual telephone conversations, they may be struggling with hearing loss. Additionally, risk of eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration all increase with age.

Reach out to . . .
Georgia Council for the Hearing Impaired (GACHI). Through this statewide nonprofit organization, seniors can receive special equipment to make their telephones more hard-of-hearing-friendly. Find out if your parents are eligible and apply online.
Details: gachi.org/gatedp

Omni Eye Services of Atlanta. Specializing in the treatment of age-related vision problems, this practice is full of board-certified surgeons and optometrists who can ensure that your parents will be in experienced hands.
Details: omnieyeatlanta.com

002-SidebarYour parents need . . .
To stay engaged. Several local therapeutic practices can keep seniors mentally active and help them cope with the transitions of aging.

Reach out to . . .
Happy Tails Pets. Since 1991, Happy Tails has been taking volunteers and their pets to Atlanta senior centers for animal-assisted therapy and activity. The organization's president, Linda Bolterstein, shares, "We have experienced firsthand the incredible effect that pet therapy has on that population." Throwing a ball for a puppy can help with motor skills, brushing a cat can help with coordination, and the cheerful presence of any pet can help combat depression and loneliness. Details: happytailspets.org

Mindful Transitions. Beyond the needs of social engagement, seniors also need a chance to process the transitions of aging. As with many life changes, aging can prompt feelings of worry, depression, low energy, grief and more. Mindful Transitions is a group practice that provides counseling of this type to seniors. "Once clients begin services, we typically see them become more involved in their new communities with peers and activities, and their families report improved mood and general well being," says Linda Jalbert, the practice's owner. A physician's order is not necessary to set up a visit with a therapist, and Medicare covers more than half of each session.
Details: mindfultransitions.org

000-Bogey-Rugby-WorkingYour parents need . . .
Financial support. Updating documents and protecting assets in today's technological world can be a challenge.

Reach out to . . .
Financial Innovations, LLC. Owner Laura Schilling offers a senior scam and identity theft seminar to arm seniors against today's frequent online scams. She can also guide you and your parents through a discussion about their investments and Last Will and Testament so you stay informed.
Details: financialinnovations.biz

Your parents need . . .
You to understand what they're going through.
This transition is tough on them too, particularly if one or both of your parents has Alzheimer's or dementia.

Reach out to . . .
Second Wind Dreams. This organization offers a Virtual Dementia Tour, which guides you through completing simple tasks that simulate the challenges of dementia. Using the loss of fine motor skills, increased confusion, pain of arthritis and other difficulties, the virtual
experience will show you just how tough it is to be in a senior's shoes. Once you understand firsthand, you can approach this phase of life and your new caregiving role with more compassion, patience and love.
Details: secondwind.org

Atlanta Home Care Partners, Inc. This full-service, family-owned and
operated non-medical home agency's area of expertise is caring for those who have been diagnosed with cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer's disease.
Details: atlantahomecarepartners.com

Your parents need . . .
You to take care of yourself. No matter how much help they need during this phase of life, they're still your parents, which means they want you to be happy and healthy too. The task of caring for dependent family members takes a mental, emotional and physical toll, so don't neglect your own needs during this time.

Reach out to . . .
Illumination Counseling and Coaching. Latasha Matthews, LPC, offers the Adult Children of Aging Parents Support Group beginning this month. The group will meet in person each month and will also offer an online webinar to discuss coping strategies, uncertainty about the future and other challenges that come hand in hand with the shifting roles of caring for your parents. The cost is just $25 per class.
Details: illuminationcc.com

 

Editorial Resources
Atlanta Home Care Partners – www.atlantahomecarepartners.com
Atlanta Senior Assistant – www.atlantaseniorassistant.com
Financial Innovations, LLC – www.financialinnovations.biz
Georgia Council for the Hearing Impaired (GACHI) – www.gachi.org/gatedp
Happy Tails Pets – www.happytailspets.org
Illumination Counseling and Coaching – www.illuminationcc.com
National Association of Home Builders – www.nahb.org/capsdirectory
National Center on Senior Transportation – www.seniortransportation.net
Omni Eye Services of Atlanta – www.omnieyeatlanta.com
Project Open Hand – www.projectopenhand.com
Second Wind Dreams – www.secondwind.org
Synergy HomeCare – www.synergyhomecare.com