Course Outline for Assisting Elderly Parents

Week 1

Lesson 1- Communicating with Aging Parents

In our first lesson, you'll learn a few tools and techniques for effective communication that will sustain you as your parents age.

Lesson 2- Helping Maintain Interest in Life

In this lesson, we'll explore ideas that can help you help your parent to maintain his or her zest for life as circumstances change. You'll discover some activities that you might not have thought of before. But you can only suggest that your parents get involved with a new interest. It can be frustrating if they refuse and you have to watch them lose their will to live. My intent is to give you many tools so you can keep trying until something works. If the only behavior you can change is your own, remember that your parent can't help but respond differently to that change. So at least that is in your control. You'll find suggestions on how to make the most of this fact in this lesson.

Week 2

Lesson 3- Simplifying Life

In this lesson, we're going to talk about ways to change how you think about accumulating things. I'll give you some ideas about what to do with the things you and your parents already have once you decide to free yourselves from the burden of excessive possessions. You'll learn about trusts and gifting away financial assets in Lesson 8—for now, we're talking about artifacts and material possessions, the things that fill your rooms, have to be dusted, insured, provided space, and otherwise cared for. Today you'll learn how to protect yourself from the mind control of advertising in our society of getting and spending. At last, you'll have the awareness to control your own spending habits and help your parents start to unload their lifetime accumulation of stuff.

Lesson 4- Important Papers

We often live under the delusion that we're immortal until something, like a death in the family, reminds us of our vulnerability in this world. We may not even think about what would happen to our cat or dog if we got hit by a bus, let alone how we would like our worldly goods distributed. If we think about our health care wishes at all, it's to hope that we do get hit by a bus and don't have to endure a painful or prolonged decline or death. Advance directives are written documents that serve as an individual's instructions regarding disposal of his or her property. In today's lesson, you'll learn what documents you must have, as well as those you should have for yourself and your parents. Today, we'll take a close at each of the important documents, and I'll provide you with tips on how to acquire and prepare them for yourself and your parents with minimum cost and effort. If you're at least 18 years of age, you should have your preferred medical, resuscitation, and funereal instructions officially documented, even if you don't yet have assets to worry about. You'll find out how to address this critical need in this lesson!

Week 3

Lesson 5- What You Need to Know <em>Now</em>

Even if you think you know your parents inside and out, you might be surprised by some of the things you don't know. And some of those things may be important to you should a parent have to move to assisted living, become incapacitated, or die. In this lesson, I'll tell you about some of the things you should find out while you still can. In addition to the documents we discussed in Lesson 4, you or your parents may have cash, valuables, investments, pensions, insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, a personal safe combination, and account numbers that will be invaluable to the executor of an estate. Do you and your parents have all those things neatly filed in one place? We'll cover all that and more in this lesson.

Lesson 6- Handling Emotions

You'll learn about practical and material matters in several of the other lessons in this course. In today's lesson, we'll take a different tack. Every emotion that there is to experience can surface at some time when you're involved in the inevitable changes that come with aging. Today, I'll help you learn what emotions to expect in yourself, your parents, your siblings, and others. We'll revisit some of the communication techniques you learned in Lesson 1 as tools for handling feelings that surface. We'll also explore some new applications of pacing and leading, and ways to manage your own emotions.

Week 4

Lesson 7- Finding Help

In the past, it was the norm for family to absorb whatever additional burdens came with the declining health and abilities of elders. Community and government services were limited or nonexistent. That's no longer the case. You are not alone, and the good news is that there are services available no matter what financial situation you or your parents are in. In this lesson, we'll explore what's available, where to find it, and the levels or progression of help that you may need over time. You'll also learn how to tell when to move from one level to another. After that, we'll go over some strategies for handling that moment when you introduce the idea of getting help to your parents. This can be a delicate matter, so it's best to be prepared. Issues of self-esteem and layers of emotion may arise when your parents find that they just can't do all the things they used to. I'll teach you to be on the lookout for this as we explore finding help.

Lesson 8- When It's Time to Move

The home care services you learned about in Lesson 7 can postpone a move to assisted living quarters, but there may come a time when it's no longer feasible for your parents to stay in their current home. You'll learn how to discuss the idea of a move with your parents, and ascertain their preferences, fears, and concerns. There are now several possibilities for increased care or services other than your home or a nursing home. I'll describe some common ones in this lesson. We'll explore the options progressively, from fully independent living to full-care nursing. We'll also talk about downsizing, as well as relocation and other services that you may need. Finally, you'll learn to choose wisely if sudden illness or impairment strikes, making a progressive approach impossible.

Week 5

Lesson 9- Choosing a Nursing Home

Today you'll learn the five symptoms that reveal when it's time for your parent to move to a nursing home. Selecting a nursing home is one of the most important decisions you can make. I'll give you criteria and a checklist for selection that will serve you well whether you find yourself in a sudden crisis or just ahead of a parent being released from hospital. You'll be able to use the information in this lesson to enhance your confidence in selecting assisted living or other residence options.

Lesson 10- The Transition

When the time comes to move your parent to a nursing home, your behavior can make a big difference in how well he or she accepts the change. You'll have to face the emotions of your parent and other family members, and control your own. The communication skills based on neurolinguistic programming (NLP) that you have learned in previous lessons will serve you well: pacing and leading, gaining and maintaining rapport, and using disassociation to control emotion. In today's lesson, I'll give you some more tips for applying your skills during this stressful time.

Week 6

Lesson 11- Death as a Life Event

In this lesson, I invite you to consider death as a life event, another rite of passage in the ever-flowing river of existence. I'll share much of my own experience with my mother's death, and some thoughts that friends and students have shared with me. What you learn will serve you well if you're dealing with the impending death of a loved one. If you aren't yet facing it, the information in this lesson will help prepare you for that eventuality. You'll learn practical tips to help the dying person, and a few more to help you cope. You'll be encouraged to conquer your fear and reluctance enough to be fully present when death is imminent, and this will free you for a profound experience.

Lesson 12- Afterward

In Lesson 11, we talked about ways to handle the experience of a loved one dying. I urged you to choose to be fully present for that experience. In this, our final lesson, we'll address what to expect after the death. You'll become familiar with various theories about grief. We'll also cover some tips on handling issues that might arise. Finally, I'll offer you encouragement and suggestions for getting closure on this life experience, and ideas for getting on with the living.

course reviews

What do others think?

‘A very timely course in this day and age when the number of elderly is increasing at record levels. I had been searching for information on a variety of elder care issues for quite some time and this course provided me with answers to my questions in one place. With my parents entering their golden years, I needed a roadmap to guide me with helping them through the aging process. This course was that roadmap.’

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