Telling Your Family You Can No Longer Care for Elderly Parents

When you’ve decided that you can’t continue to be your parent’s primary caregiver, how do you break it to the family? And how do you manage your own feelings of sadness and guilt?

“Other people don’t always like or understand our decisions,” says Steven Zarit, a professor in the human development and family studies department at Pennsylvania State University and a caregiver support group leader. “We all have limits on what we are able to do, and if we have done the best we can and can’t go on, we shouldn’t feel guilty,” Zarit says.

Read on for a few steps to follow when discussing a change in caregiving arrangements with your family.

  1. Reframe your decision

It’s normal to feel guilty when you decide to stop being a caregiver for a loved one, but there are other ways to view this change.

  1. Consider how others will be affected

Your decision to no longer be your parent’s primary caregiver will probably bring change for your other family members, too. They may resent your decision and worry that they’ll now have to put more time and effort into caregiving.

Undoubtedly, there will be complex family dynamics. Past issues between siblings may resurface. And any kind of change is usually difficult for everyone at first.

When she holds family meetings, Qualls finds it effective to ask, “What is most important to you about your mother’s life from today until the day she dies?” This question can help people focus on the parent rather than siblings’ perceived shortcomings or family history. It’s also an opportunity to brainstorm and collaborate.

  1. Communicate with care and compassion

When you explain that something needs to change, make it clear to siblings that you’re not telling them what to do or forcing them into something they don’t want to do. It’s helpful to use inclusive language, such as:

  • “Here are my thoughts”
  • “I could use your help figuring out the next steps”
  • “We’re in this together”
  • “Do you have any other ideas?”

Sometimes the discussion can get heated. But rather than argue, tell family members you’ve done the best you can, and really believe it. If there’s pushback, stay calm.

You might say, “Maybe I could’ve done things differently, but I’ve truly reached the end of the line and need some help.” If they seem willing, tell them they’re welcome to take over caregiving responsibilities.

For some families, it makes sense to find a neutral, third party with clinical training to manage or attend the meeting. Your local Area Agency on Aging in Austin, TX may be able to recommend a geriatric care manager, an elder mediator, or a family therapist to help facilitate your discussion.

  1. Remember to acknowledge your feelings

Do you think others are judging you for not being a good enough daughter or sibling, or for abandoning the original caregiving plan? Do you believe that yourself? Do you feel someone else could have done better? Are others constantly criticizing your caregiving decisions?

If so, try to have self-compassion and be kind to yourself. Feeling exhausted, inadequate, or resentful is often what happens when caregivers set boundaries or change the rules.

Remember that others have been in your situation before, and there are ways to talk to them. Consider joining an in-person or online caregiver support group in Austin, Texas.

What’s the next step?

Once you’ve discussed your desire for a caregiving change, you may decide as a family that your aging loved one needs more help than you or your siblings can provide. For any other questions about this in Austin, Texas, consider giving us a call here at The Heritage at Hunters Chase from Surpass Senior Living.


ADLs and IADLs: An Essential Guide for Seniors in Austin, Texas

Understand how to assess your aging loved one’s ability to complete activities of daily living (ADLs) to help ensure they live their best life.


ADLs are basic tasks a person needs to be able to do on their own to live independently, whether in Austin, Texas, or beyond. Health issues and aging may make it difficult for seniors to complete certain everyday self-care tasks that are essential to keep them healthy and safe.

The Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living is an effective tool used to assess overall health and functional status of older adults and those with disabilities. Basic ADLs include six essential skills:

  • Bathing and showering: the ability to bathe self and maintain dental, hair, and nail hygiene
  • Continence: having complete control of bowels and bladder
  • Dressing: the ability to select appropriate clothes and outerwear, and to dress self independently
  • Mobility: being able to walk or transfer from one place to another, specifically in and out of a bed or chair
  • Feeding (excluding meal preparation): the ability to get food from plate to mouth, and to chew and swallow
  • Toileting: the ability to get on and off the toilet and clean self without assistance

 What are instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)?

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, or IADLs, are more complex activities required for senior independent living in Austin, Texas that often involve thinking and organizational skills. IADLs outlined by the Lawton-Brody scale assessment include:

  • Cleaning and housekeeping, including maintenance and other home care chores
  • Doing laundry
  • Managing money
  • Managing medications and taking medicines as directed
  • Preparing meals
  • Shopping for groceries and other necessities
  • Transportation, including changing residences and moving
  • Using communication devices, including the telephone or computer

Why are ADLs and IADLs important for Texas caregivers?

ADLs represent everyday tasks that chaustinge both mental and physical capabilities. A person needs to have the physical ability to perform ADL tasks themselves, and the planning and mental capacity to conceptualize the tasks and understand what needs to be done.

Conversely, a decline in the ability to complete basic ADLs may not be noticeable until later stages of dementia or physical disability.

Knowing your loved one’s ability to complete ADLs can help you and your aging parent’s doctor answer these questions:

  • Do you or a neighbor need to check on your aging parent routinely?
  • Does your aging loved one need physical therapy?
  • Is your aging parent able to continue living independently?
  • Would moving to an assisted living community be beneficial?

ADLs can also help caregivers and health care professionals understand the level of care needed. The level of care for someone who can’t complete IADLs is different from the care needed by someone who can’t complete basic ADLs.

In some cases, IADL deficiencies may be managed by different service providers, such as a senior meal preparation or a local Texas delivery service, a housekeeper, or a money management professional. ADLs require more intensive, hands-on care.

Families rarely ask about ADLs until a parent or senior loved one is going through the process of assessment for long-term care, says Dr. Leslie Kernisan, a geriatric expert.

“If someone is concerned about their mom, then knowing how they’re doing with ADLs is important. It can educate a person and take them from feeling like ‘Mom needs help, I’m worried,’ to be able to answer questions like, ‘OK, where does she need help?’” she says.

She recommends bringing up changes in a loved one’s ability to do these tasks when talking with a physician.

According to Kernisan, it’s a good idea to share changes in ADLs with your loved one’s medical team because:

  • A change in ADL can trigger medical evaluations that may uncover a medical issue. It’s important to understand the root cause of the problem or change in ability.
  • Understanding root causes can help you and your loved one’s doctor work together to find ways to improve function. Some common ways to improve function include medical treatment, physical therapy, or a device such as a walker.
  • Understanding ADLs is critical to having an accurate care plan. If your parent’s doctor doesn’t realize there’s a functional problem, the care plan they create may not be in line with your loved one’s abilities. For example, if the doctor isn’t aware that your loved one is sometimes forgetful, then their expectation that your parent can regularly monitor their blood sugar on their own may not be realistic.

How are ADLs and IADLs assessed?

ADLs and IADLs can be assessed in a variety of ways. Caregiver input can be helpful to create a bigger picture of a person’s functional status. However, caregiver burnout and the tendency to overestimate or underestimate someone’s true abilities can make this method less accurate than others.

Self-reporting can also help get the conversation about ADLs started. No one understands a situation better than the person experiencing it. Self-reporting is especially helpful when individuals have minimal cognitive decline. However, self-report measures leave the results open to a person’s own interpretation.

While a health care professional’s report is often believed to provide the most objective view of a person’s functional status, a combination of assessments may fully capture the picture of disability for a given individual.

The 3 types of ADL assessments physicians use.

Health care professionals commonly use these tools to assess ADLs:

  • The Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living: This is the best choice for patients in long-term care, where disability is generally more severe and stable
  • The Barthel ADL Index: This assessment covers two additional domains, including grooming and stairs. It’s best suited to acute care settings, as it is more detailed and better detects subtle changes in a person’s health
  • The Functional Independence Measure (FIM): This option is more comprehensive, combining ADLs with IADLs and other social domains

Signs that it’s time to assess ADLs and IADLs

Kernisan suggests keeping an eye out for specific safety factors when visiting a senior relative, including:

  • Driving: Have there been any accidents or close calls? Do passengers feel worried?
  • Elder abuse: Do you have any concerns about emotional, financial, physical, or verbal abuse?
  • Finances: Are there problems paying bills? Are you concerned about scams?
  • Health: Has your loved one had any falls? Have there been repeated trips to the ER or hospital?
  • Memory and thinking: Have there been problems with forgetting, getting lost, or wandering? Is there concern about poor awareness or poor judgment?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, it may be time to assess your aging loved one’s ADLs and IADLs, either by a medical professional or from your perspective as a family member.

ADL and IADL: assessment tips for caregivers

As you assess your loved one’s ADLs and IADLs capabilities, follow these tips:

  • Ask your siblings’, friends’, or neighbors’ opinions. Inquire about any changes you’ve noticed in your loved one’s abilities. Pick two or three people to discuss your concerns.
  • Assess on a spectrum. Ask yourself whether your loved one can do the task a little bit, sometimes, or often rather than a simple “yes, they can do the task,” or “no, they can’t.
  • Be patient. “If a person is doing a task more slowly than they used to, it doesn’t mean they can’t do the task,” says Kernisan.
  • Consider the time of day and how tired they are. Many seniors have sharper cognitive abilities and more energy in the morning.
  • Consider their health. If they’re fatigued or fighting a virus, their abilities can be momentarily impaired.
  • Find the time. “It’s common to be in a hurry and it’s difficult to find the time to observe, but it’s important to take the time and when you do, be patient,” Kernisan says.
  • Look at your own preconceived notions about your loved one. Are they interfering with your ability to make an impartial assessment?
  • Make the effort to help correct what you can. Ensure your loved one can live life to the best of their abilities and as independently as possible.

If your loved one is unable to perform daily tasks outlined in the ADLs and IADLs, or if you have other safety factors, it may be time to discuss increasing their level of support.

ADLs and IADLs: a checklist for the elderly

When it comes to assessing ADLs and IADLs, there’s a lot of technical information about different assessments. This can be overwhelming for families to navigate. Here’s what Dr. Kernisan recommends:

  • Ask your aging parent’s doctor if a change in medical plan is required (for example, a complicated diabetes plan may need to be revised)
  • Ask if your loved one qualifies for a service like Medicaid
  • Ask what’s causing any issues or inabilities
  • Be aware of your loved one’s true abilities when it comes to ADLs and IADLs
  • Consider whether the limitations have short- or long-term implications
  • Help your loved one remain independent as long as possible with adaptive assistance
  • Seek treatment

How to get help with ADLs for your loved one

If you’re worried about your loved one’s ability to perform everyday tasks, connect with their doctor to discuss your concerns. It’s important to identify any limitations your aging parent may have, but it’s even more critical to support them by finding solutions to help solve or alleviate those limitations, or by finding the care they need.

Taking these steps will help your loved one to be as independent as possible so they can enjoy a greater quality of life.

In some cases, simple lifestyle adjustments such as hearing or vision aids, physical therapy, or assistive devices to make bathing, transferring, or using the toilet easier can help your loved one perform ADLs independently.

And, if you are looking for compassionate senior living or memory care for a loved one, within these CDC guidelines, here in Austin, Texas, consider giving us a call at The Heritage at Hunters Chase from Surpass Senior Living. You can contact one of our sales directors here.


Important COVID-19 Vaccine Numbers to Date, for Austin, Texas Seniors

The biggest vaccination campaign in history has begun. More than 152 million doses in 75 countries have been administered, according to data collected by Bloomberg. The latest rate was roughly 5.64 million doses a day, on average.


Vaccinations in the U.S. began Dec. 14 with health-care workers, and so far 16.3 million shots have been given, according to a state-by-state tally by Bloomberg and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the last week, an average of 1.57 million doses per day were administered.

Currently (as of February 11, 2021), over 10% of the total population of Texas have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The initial round of shots through early January have been doled out primarily through hospitals and other institutional health-care settings. This next phase in Austin and the rest of the state Texas will draw more on pharmacies and health clinics—places where vaccines are more traditionally administered—and will broaden the pool of people eligible to get the shots. Some states are turning sport stadiums and theme parks into mass vaccination centers.

In an effort to speed up vaccinations after a rocky rollout, the U.S. government on Jan. 12 began encouraging states to start immunizing all residents 65 and older, along with those ages 16 and older with certain medical conditions. The directive would open vaccinations up to more than a third of the U.S. population—more than the current supply of vaccines could support.

The U.S. is managing state allocations of Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine, as well as Moderna’s shot and has said it will make more shots available in order to increase vaccinations. Both vaccines require two doses taken several weeks apart. At least 2.12 million people have completed the two-dose vaccination regimen.

For any other questions about the pandemic or the COVID-19 vaccine, whether about yourself or a loved one, in Austin, Texas, consider giving us a call here at The Heritage at Hunters Chase Surpass Senior Living.


Caring for Elderly Loved Ones in Austin, Texas During the COVID-19 Pandemic

While everyone is dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether in Austin, Texas or nationally, it’s important to check on senior’s health and boost their mood, even from afar.

“As much as you love the older adults in your life, now is not the time to gather with them, especially if you’re not in their bubble,” said Dr. Angela Catic, assistant professor at the Huffington Center on Aging at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.


Consider instead what you can do to make this time easier for older adults in your life, such as having a meal delivered or sending flowers. If they’re tech savvy, you can check in with them virtually, enjoying a meal via phone or video conference. If they live nearby, do a window visit.

“You can really observe so much with window visits. See if the older adults are moving around, if they’ve lost weight and how the house looks,” Catic said in a Baylor news release. “Families can even set up tables on each side of the window, turn on their phones and dine together.”

Regularly communicate via phone, video or window, possibly setting up a calling tree among family members so older adults get several calls daily, which can help ease isolation and improve mood. Talk about the future to help them see the light ahead, she said.

Adults who are physically and mentally able to do so should spend time outside every day, walking in the neighborhood or sitting on the porch, Catic suggested.

“They may see people out and about, which is good for their spirits,” she said. “Outdoors is safer than indoors, but they should still wear a mask.”

You can also check in on their memory, thinking skills and mental health with these virtual or window visits, Catic suggested. Discuss current events or reminisce about past holidays to see if they can follow the conversation.

Catic also suggests encouraging older family members who haven’t done so to get a flu shot at their doctor’s office or nearby pharmacy, as well as making sure they get the COVID-19 vaccine when available in Texas.

“If there are red flags or if something seems off with an older family member, reach out to their medical providers about the best way to address this,” Catic said.

“Whether it’s a virtual or face-to-face visit at an Active Senior Living Community in Austin, Texas, hospitals and clinics have safety as their top priority. Maintaining the health of older adults is a priority and we are here and available to help.”

For any other questions about the pandemic or the COVID-19 vaccine, whether about yourself or a loved one, in Austin, Texas, consider giving us a call here at The Heritage at Hunters Chase Surpass Senior Living.