Each year, millions of Americans selflessly donate their time and talents to care for aging in place parents. Family caregivers wear many hats, including money manager, house cleaner, home health aide, nurse, and appointment scheduler. Once the roles are reversed, serving as an advocate while honoring a senior parent’s wishes is essential for maintaining their quality of life. If you’ve never taken care of a senior parent before, here’s how to effectively advocate on their behalf so they can live out the rest of their life with dignity and self-respect.

Be Observant

Caregivers are often too busy or exhausted to notice subtle changes. However, the slightest shift in Mom or Dad’s mobility, mood, safety needs, appetite, or cognitive ability could indicate a more pressing medical or mental health issue.

Putting your powers of observation to work will allow you to identify small changes that you then share with your parent’s doctor. Hone your observational skills through mindfulness and meditation practices like Yoga and keep your mind clear by getting adequate sleep. Take detailed notes on your observations about your parent so you can track and report changes to their fellow care team members over time.

When coordinating care from a distance, technology like Zoom or FaceTime can help detect small changes in your parent’s physical appearance or cognitive abilities better than a phone call can. If all else fails, use a remote monitoring system to track Mom or Dad’s movements at home and detect changes in their routine, for example, staying in bed longer.

Stay Organized

It can be tough to stay on top of a caregiving plan with all the “moving parts” involved. As an advocate, you’ll need to manage your parent’s caregiving team, compile task lists, and organize the mounds of paperwork associated with their health, legal, and financial matters. Taking an organization crash course and using the latest digital document-storing technology are two effective ways to stay organized as a caregiver.

Communicate Effectively

Caregiving can be an emotional rollercoaster that complicates the ability to communicate. Good communication skills are essential for building relationships with those who are caring for loved ones, including family members, doctors, lawyers, and professional caregivers. Ways to communicate more effectively when discussing Mom or Dad’s care needs include being respectful, doing your homework, and speaking clearly and concisely.

Ask (the Right) Questions

Part of your job as an advocate is to gather information, so don’t be shy about questioning those involved in your loved one’s care. When the opportunity presents itself, be prepared to ask the right questions by educating yourself about Mom or Dad’s health condition, finances, and legal affairs. Instead of assuming, be sure to clarify what you are hearing and don’t ever give up until you are satisfied you’ve received the answers you need to be a strong advocate.

Get Tenacious

Even though it might not come naturally to you, there may be times when you need to act like an agitated bulldog to ensure that Mom or Dad’s best interests are being served. For one, dealing with the bureaucracy of a fragmented health care system while trying to do more with less can be frustrating.

Ways to be more tenacious include surrounding yourself with positive, encouraging people who will pick you up when you’re having a bad day. Additionally, be clear about your caregiving goals and don’t lose sight of the result you want. It’s also essential to maintain a positive mindset so that when caregiving knocks you down, you can get right back up!

An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home

Being a strong advocate for a senior parent isn’t easy when you are busy or live far away. At Adultcare Assistance Homecare, we’d love to have an open dialogue with you about your needs and how we can help your loved one comfortably and affordably age in place. As a locally owned agency with a long track record of success, our highly trained caregivers can step in and provide your family with the care that’s needed.

Our home care services include respite care, companion care, medication reminders, senior transportation, light housekeeping, and even 24-hour, live-in assistance. To learn more about our award-winning services now or to get a FREE Home Care Assessment for a senior in Phoenix, Sun City, or Tucson, AZ, today, please visit Adultcare Assistance Homecare at: www.adultassistance.com.