Caring For Your Aging Parents

Caring For Your Aging Parents

Caring For Your Aging Parents

There once was a time in your life when you were very young, and your parents cared for you until you were old enough to care for yourself. Just as you were getting older, so were your parents. Now, your parents may need your help to take care of them.

While it is honorable to care for your parents, this part of the circle of life is also challenging and requires careful handling, according to Andrew Rosen, president, partner, and financial adviser at Diversified LLC, an investment advisory firm.

“In my line of work, I witness the tolls and stress caring for an aging parent can have on both the child and the parent,” Rosen wrote in an article for Kiplinger.

Caring for your parents is a major undertaking, which is why Rosen shared seven practical and effective strategies developed by elder care experts to help adult children care for an aging parent or another family member:

1. Determine your parents’ needs

In caring for your parents, you must first understand their unique needs in every aspect of their lives, such as:

  • Family support
  • Home safety
  • Medical needs
  • Cognitive health
  • Mobility
  • Personal care
  • Meal preparation
  • Social interaction
  • Exercise

It’s critical during this stage to look at your parents’ current support and what other resources they may need.

2. Are you capable of caring for your parents?

While you may want to take care of your parents, you must determine whether you are up to the task. If you want to be actively involved in their caregiving, consider your own health, living conditions, and proximity to your parents. You should also discuss your caregiving plans with your significant other. Knowing that you are not the right person to care for your parents is just as important as knowing that you are the right person. Considering your own capacity to be a caregiver should help you determine whether you might or might not need help.

3. Make it a family affair

If you’re planning to care for your aging parents, who better to ask what they need than your parents? If they are able, ask your parents about what type of care and resources they feel they need, who they would want to deliver that care, and whether they would like to stay in their home or move to a smaller residence. If you have your own family, include them in the discussion as well since they may also get involved in caregiving.

4. Estimate the cost of caregiving

Caring for your aging parents comes with a cost, and an important question is: Who’s going to pay these ongoing costs? Having an open discussion with your parents about their finances—as well as what you and other family members are willing to contribute—may be tough but it needs to be held. For instance, will your parents need a home health aide each week? Are they better off with a live-in caregiver? If so, how much will it cost and who will pay for those services? Can your parents afford monthly prescription medications and pay for their basic needs, like food, as well? Keep in mind that there are certain services that Medicare does not pay for. So, who will pay for them if your parents need these services? Rosen highly suggests involving financial experts to help you in this process.

5. Consider home safety

If you have children, chances are you used to “child-proof” your home when they were very young. Well, when it comes to your aging parents, expect to come full circle and “parent-proof” your parents’ home to prevent accidents. This means adding features suggested by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), such as:

  • Grab bars near the toilet and in the shower or tub area
  • A walk-in tub/shower
  • Non-slip mats around the bathtub area
  • Appliances that work correctly, those that have no frayed wires or error codes
  • Motion detection lighting for use at night
  • Handrails along all steps
  • A charging station for devices near the bed
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout the home

Changes might also include replacing low toilets or toilet seats with higher ones to make it easier to get on and off and removing throw rugs that create fall hazards.

Making home safety modifications may get expensive, depending on what your parents may need. However, the NCOA reports that there are long-term material loans and certain Medicare plans that can help pay for the modifications. Also, there are home improvement grants offered for a single specific home modification project on a one-time basis that does not need to be repaid. Ensuring your parents’ safety will help them stay in their own home for as long as possible.

6. Keep The Lines Of Communication Open

The communication plan should include taking time to check in with your parents regularly. Hearing from you and other family members, even though you may be busy, will go a long way in helping your parents fight loneliness, something that many older adults experience. Your parents also need to be able to reach you, another family member, or even a first responder in case of emergencies. Many seniors wear a medical alert watch or pendant to notify someone in case of a home health emergency. These devices help to save lives, especially when older adults have an emergency when they are alone.

7. Consider All Available Care Options

Although there are different senior care options available for older adults, it is best to discuss with your parents which one would be best for them. Of course, they would probably prefer you or one of your family members, but this may not be possible on a daily basis, primarily if you work every day. However, home healthcare agencies provide licensed and certified aides or nursing assistants for hourly care when needed. Also, some companies provide live-in care in which certified nursing assistants, home health aides, or personal care assistants act as live-in caregivers that live in their clients’ homes to provide one-on-one care. If your parents choose not to stay in their home, they may benefit from assisted living. You can research the different types of care or contact a professional geriatric care manager for assistance.

While you may not need to use these and other strategies today, it is essential to have a guide should the time come. According to Rosen, you do not have to do this on your own because many professionals can help you along the way. Moreover, Rosen advises people caring for their aging parents to use help, “involve your family, and handle it with care.”

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