Watching parents progress through age can be challenging, to say the least. The person who raised you and acted as a strong, powerful role model slowly loses their faculty as they grow old—and before you know it, you’re caring for the person who cared for you since you were a baby.
This transition could happen gradually as their condition worsens, or it could happen overnight if they unexpectedly slip, fall, and break a bone.
That’s why it’s critical for families to be proactive and plan for this chapter of life before anyone is caught off guard and thrown into a caretaking role they’re not prepared for.
Mix this with your travel plans and your lifestyle, and it gets tricky. Today, we’ll talk about 3 things you should know when caring for an aging parent.
Daily Living Requirements Must Be Met
How do you gauge whether your parent needs additional assistance as they progress through age? It’s a delicate line to walk. You don’t want to offend their dignity or autonomy, but you need to know that they can safely meet the daily living requirements essential to their emotional and physical well-being.
Keep a close eye on their condition to ensure they independently perform the following activities every day:
- Bathing or showering
- Personal hygiene (grooming, brushing teeth, etc.)
- Toilet hygiene
- Functional mobility (getting in and out of bed, sitting down and up from a chair)
Many seniors develop age-related illness or mobility issues that impede their ability to conduct their daily activities with ease. They might show signs of cognitive decline and forget to take their prescriptions, or it may prove unsafe for them to walk up and down the stairs after recent surgery.
Whatever the case may be, you’ll need to find them the appropriate help. This may be in the form of you stopping by at lunch to make sure they took their meds, hiring a qualified professional for help, or retrofitting their home and installing the proper safety equipment.
This transition is inevitably challenging. Adult children may be in denial, not ready to accept their parent’s decline in health, and elderly parents may be reluctant to ask for help due to guilt, shame, or stubbornness. However, taking an honest look at their condition and identifying where they need support is the first step to helping them live out the last years of their life most comfortably.
There are Ways to Pay for Senior Care
As health weakens and parents show increased symptoms, many adult children worry over how to pay for senior care. You want the best possible treatment for your parents, but how can you afford it without placing a financial burden on your own family? And how do you know which type of treatment program is best?
Fortunately, there are several ways to pay for senior care without mounting expensive medical bills. Take a look at the options below:
- Medicare Part A – Original Medicare includes provisions for different types of inpatient care during temporary stays at a hospital or skilled nursing facility. This form of senior health insurance also provides hospice care for terminal illnesses and may cover the costs of at-home nursing care in severe cases.
- Supplemental Medicare – Also known as a “Medigap policy”, supplemental insurance can be used to bridge the gap between services not covered under Original Medicare Part A and B. This offsets the out-of-pocket costs for dental care, dentures, eye exams, hearing aids, and more.
- Investment Accounts and Retirement Savings – According to LongtermCare.gov, the average monthly cost of living in an assisted living or nursing facility ranges from $3,600 to $6,800, which could be very difficult to afford on Social Security alone. When your parent can no longer safely age in place, they can receive the treatment they deserve by tapping into the interest accrued on their investment portfolio or the money they’ve placed into a savings account.
Be sure to take advantage of the publicly funded programs that offer financial assistance for the elderly if you need extra help covering medical expenses.
Charities such as Meals on Wheels can provide your loved one with warm food and friendly smiles when you can’t be there, while the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development may be able to find your parent an affordable place to live.
Estate Planning Should Be Aligned
Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of “if” your loved one will die, but “when”. As they develop signs of age, it’s wise to go over their estate plan to ensure their affairs are in order. It can be uncomfortable to discuss what will happen once a parent passes, but it’s crucial to talk about it in advance.
Having a plan laid out will not only minimize stress following their passing, but it will also help minimize the amount paid in taxes, court costs, and legal fees. It’s likely that your parents began preparing their estate when their children were born, but it’s worth reviewing in case any changes need to be made.
For example, a divorce in the family or the birth of grandchildren could warrant names being added or removed. Your parent may have acquired a business since then, in which case they’ll need to formally document who it will be transferred to, or they might have opened a bank account but have yet to record the information necessary for an heir to access the funds.
Go over the documents in detail to confirm nothing’s left out, and if they haven’t already created a plan, make it a priority while they’re still in good health. Talking through various options from the comfort of home will make you and your parents feel much more comfortable as you prepare.
It’s important to have these conversations with your parent(s) well before their condition deteriorates and they have their full mental faculty. Otherwise, family members might feel rushed into a decision and emotions can run tense. Difficult conversations are never easy but going into them prepared helps smooth the discussion.
Come to the table with these talking points in mind and your loved one can rest assured they’ll receive the best care possible.
Kaelee Nelson received her Master degree with an emphasis in Digital Humanities and pursues her career as a writer in San Diego, currently writing for 365 Business Tips and GoodLife. She enjoys informing readers about topics spanning industries such as technology, business, finance, culture, wellness, hospitality, and tourism.