Are You Concerned About an Aging Parent?

As families gather and spend more time together during the holiday season, we may have greater insight into the day-to-day lives of our aging parents. There’s no simple way to tackle all the logistical and emotional challenges associated with caring for an aging parent.

These five steps are a great start as you do what’s needed to keep parents safe, cared for, and financially secure.

1. Call a family meeting.

No two families are the same, but in most cases, you’re going to want to gather together all siblings and close family members for an open and honest discussion. Hiding the facts now will only lead to hurt feelings, resentment, and poor planning.

The needs of your parent depends on their current condition. Are the issues mild? Do they need caregiving or regular visits? Small day-to-day tasks like helping mom or dad buy groceries can be a big help.

If you’re contemplating a more serious decision like assisted living, make sure you give everyone space to voice an opinion. Try to keep the conversation as positive and solution focused as possible.

2. Don’t try to parent.

Shifting from the role of adult child to caregiver is going to be a difficult transition for both you and your parent. Don’t try to do too much too soon. Older adults who feel like they’re being “babied” are prone to depression or dangerous outbursts of independence like grabbing the car keys or refusing to take medication.

A better approach is to try to frame your caregiving as a way of being more involved in your parent’s current routine. Put the grandkids’ sports and performance events on the calendar and offer transportation. Bring an extra dish to a dinner party. Drive mom to the movies and let a sibling know the house will be unoccupied for a few hours if there are any cleaning that needs attention.

3. Gather the essentials.

If your parent doesn’t keep all important documents in one location, now is the time to collect, copy, and file things like the following items.

  • Identification (e.g. driver’s license, birth certificate)
  • Home deeds and vehicle titles
  • Insurance records
  • Investment account statements
  • Wills, trusts, power of attorney, and end of life directives
  • Login information for important online accounts (banking, subscriptions, social media)

There may be other documents that are unique to your parent’s living or financial situation.

4. Tag along.

Start attending doctor’s appointments. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that will help you familiarize yourself with your parent’s medical condition and aid with any at-home care.

Ask your parent to introduce you to his or her financial advisor, attorney, and accountant. Make sure the relevant professionals know they can reach out to you if they experience any changes in your parent’s health or mental capacity.

5. Plan for the next steps.

At some point, your aging parent may no longer be self-sufficient. The earlier that you and your close family members decide upon an action plan, the better. Do you or anyone in your family have the room, the time, and the means to care for your parent? How can non-caregiving siblings or other family members chip in on associated costs of living?

If your parent does not have long-term care insurance or funds earmarked for end-of-life care, you and your close family members may need to hold another meeting to discuss how to pay for care.

Living longer means more money must be spent on health and long-term care costs that continue to rise every day. As you age, you also must consider your housing, how you want to receive care, personal advocacy, your legacy, and more. It’s a lot to prepare for, and too many people delay until they face a crisis. Planning early with our Age In Place program allows you to concentrate on giving your family the love and support it needs while navigating aging issues with care.

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