Making good decisions when caring for an aging parent


A study from UC Berkeley claims, “Highly anxious people have more trouble deciding how best to handle life’s uncertainties. They may even catastrophize, interpreting, say, a lovers’ tiff as a doomed relationship or a workplace change as a career threat.” Even the most rational, even-tempered person can feel anxious when a loved one is becoming either physically or mentally debilitated. Many seniors require supplemental help for their day-to-day living. Making good decisions during these stressful times can have far reaching effects for both the family and the patient. The article goes on to say, “An important skill in everyday decision-making is the ability to judge whether an unexpected bad outcome is a chance event or something likely to reoccur if the action that led to the outcome is repeated.”

A Forbes article titled “6 Tips for Making Better Decisions” breaks down the decision making process somewhat. These concepts can be applied when making business or personal decisions. There is an emotional component that has an influence in the outcome. People make decisions based on a multitude of parameters. Some are mostly emotional driven by guilt, empathy or a desire to make someone happy. Other decisions can be rational or pragmatic incorporating a mathematical process. Sometimes there is a blending of both. The article highlights the fact that people ”make poor choices that lead to bad decisions. And in some cases they compound bad decision upon bad decision.” What can be done to make good decisions under stressful situations?

Some experts suggest that having an ability to synthesize new and unfamiliar information is a strong asset, also doing thorough research of credible sources with different points of view. There is much in the way of opinion being printed. This blog is an opinion that sources other opinions to reach a conclusion. Correlation does not make Causation. Be careful what you choose to believe. The article goes on to say that “Understanding that a hierarchy of knowledge exists is critically important when attempting to make prudent decisions, not all inputs should weigh equally in one’s decisioning process. By developing a qualitative and quantitative filtering mechanism for your decisioning process you can make better decisions in a shorter period of time.” Sometimes decisions must be made quickly where the health of a loved one is concerned.

Many people seek help after an ongoing problem has become dangerous to the health or well being of the elderly individual. People who are in cognitive decline can become belligerent, frustrated, confused and angry. They want to remain independent as long as possible and there is a strain on the family members who try to accommodate that desire past the tipping point. Since the stress increases gradually, there is a tendency to just keep adapting to the demanding schedule instead of getting help. The family caretaker may have to leave work early or take time off to drive their loved one to doctors appointments, go grocery shopping or come to their home in the middle of the night once they start wandering. When confronted with this stage in a loved ones life do what is best for them as well as what is best for the family as a whole. There are good in-home senior care services available to help families experiencing a strain due to a member starting to show signs of cognitive decline.

Do interviews, ask questions, do research and make a decision based on how you feel as well as what is in the best interest of everyone concerned. Is it best for a family member to take off work to care for the person or is it best to bring someone in? How often are they needed? How will they help? There are so many questions but there are places to go for answers. Safety and quality of life could be considered two primary reasons to hire an in-home senior care agency to assist during this time of life.

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