Many of us will be tasked with caring for our elderly parents. It can be a challenging time for your family, and you’re saddled with a variety of responsibilities—on top of all of life’s other stressors. From end of life care to medical bills, keeping your parents safe to having the hard conversations, there’s plenty to think about. If you’re caring for an aging parent, here are some important things you should keep in mind.
Have the Hard Conversations Early
No one is prepared for it, and no one wants to do it, but you need to accept the fact that there are going to be some tough conversations for you and your aging parent in the near future. Don’t put these conversations off. It’s not enjoyable for either of you to discuss drafting a will or making funeral arrangements, but open communication is key. The earlier you discuss these tough topics, the better—it’s important to understand your parents’ wishes early on, especially if you’ll soon be tasked with making decisions for them. Providing a safe space to express your concerns, and listening to theirs, will help you make every transition smoother. Be sure to touch on their wishes for funeral plans, end of life care solutions, and any sort of legal concerns that you may feel be important later on.
Put Safeguards in Place
Whether your parent is moving in with you or remaining in their home with a part-time caretaker, consider investing in certain safeguards. These safeguards come in a variety of forms; it might mean buying them a medical alert system for seniors. These types of alarms are designed to provide a connection point for your aging loved one should they fall or need any other type of assistance. If your parent is struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s, GPS technology in the alarm will give you peace of mind that they’re where they need to be in order to stay safe. Another safeguard to consider? Installing a new bathtub setup. The last thing your parent needs is to slip while getting into the shower, and there are plenty of senior-friendly bathroom installations to choose from.
Understand Financial Options
Taking care of an aging parent can be expensive, and it’s important that you understand your financial options. Do your research, and learn everything there is to know about the benefits of Medicare and Medicaid—and their limitations.
Medicare is used to help individuals over 65 pay for medical issues. Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D cover specified medical costs, prescription drugs, and certain hospital expenses. Medicare doesn’t cover everything, but it can be very beneficial for specific expenditures.
Medicaid is a federal-state program designed to provide health and nursing home coverage to aging individuals with few assets. This includes low-income or low-asset elderly individuals who require nursing home care.
Take the time to go over your parent’s current coverage plan. Once you understand what’s covered by the plan, you’ll be better able to estimate how much you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket for their care. Many choose to enroll in supplemental insurance plans to handle any medical costs not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
Stick to a Budget
Your budget will change when you take on the responsibility of caring for an aging parent. Be sure to assess the ways your family’s spending needs to change to accommodate new costs. It might mean going out to eat less, or spending less on travel this year. You also need to speak with your parent and determine whether or not they’ve set aside money for their end of life care. Have they secured a prepaid funeral? Financial issues like these aren’t exactly comfortable to talk about, but they’re an important part of providing your loved one with the care they need.
Keep Your Parent Moving
Their bodies might not keep up like they once did, but there’s no reason your parent can’t stay active. Keeping an aging individual on the move isn’t always an easy task, but there are plenty of in-house exercise machines designed for seniors that can keep them on the move—which may help them stay healthy and happy for years.
Make the Most of Your Time
Watching a parent age isn’t a fun process, but it definitely makes quality time a bigger priority than ever before. Make sure to dedicate time each week to spend with your parent, especially if they don’t live in your home. Accepting that your time with them is limited is a tough first step, but it’s an important realization. Make time to sit and talk with your parent, record their favorite memories, and make new ones you can treasure when they’re gone.