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Caring for Your Aging Parents

Caring for Aging Parents: Guide for Caregivers

If you are a caretaker for elderly parents, you may be in need of an “older parents guide” to help you navigate the decision making and planning of their future. Here is an elder care checklist that can guide you in the sometimes difficult job of caring for elderly parents. 

Communicating with Your Elderly Parents

Helping your parents navigate their future and knowing how to talk to aging parents about their future is a balancing act. While they need and rely on your assistance, they likely still want to be involved in the decision making involved with planning for their living situation, medical care and finances. It’s important to sit down and talk to elderly parents about accepting help and creating a plan for what their lives may look like as they get older. 

What to Discuss with Your Aging Parents

Think about the questions you want to ask aging parents. If you’re not sure of what to ask, we’ve compiled a list below with topics to discuss with your parents so you can be better prepared. 

Abilities

Caring for elderly parents can feel overwhelming when you don’t have a plan. Do you or your parents have a plan for long-term care, physical health, daily living activities and  the possibility of incapacity? Long term care is likely crucial for what is to come in the long run. Making sure your parents are taking care of their physical health will determine how their body can sustain them as they get older. Daily living activities can help your parents stay on a schedule to prevent boredom or loneliness – they’ve probably worked their entire lives in some way, and they may need to continue with a similar schedule. As parents get older, they are more susceptible to getting injured and falls are the leading cause of death for people over the age of 65

Living Arrangements

Figuring out a living arrangement for your elderly parents can be challenging. You may ask yourself “can my elderly parent live alone?”. Many times, older parents don’t want to leave their home because they feel safe and comfortable, and they’ve built memories there. However, this isn’t always the safest option for them if they are getting older and can’t take care of themselves. However, there are a variety of options available for aging parents such as an assisted living facility, nursing homes or living with a relative. People who live alone typically face an increased risk of challenges like poverty, loneliness, malnourishment and other health issues.

Aging parents may not like the idea of being placed somewhere other than their home, but allowing them to take part in the decision can help them feel in charge of their life. When looking for an assisted living facility, it’s important to look in advance, do your research and allow your parents to be vocal about the amenities they would like in an assisted living community.

A nursing home may be a better option for aging parents that need medical attention. According to Long Term Care, 70% of people over the age of 65 are in need of assisted living or support. It also states that the percentage of people that use nursing homes is about 35%. Another factor to consider is the cost of nursing home care and how paying for care in a nursing home will affect you or your parents’ finances. According to Senior Living, the average cost per month in a nursing home can range from $260-$297.

Living with a relative is an option to consider. This may be the environment you or your parent prefer most, but it’s also important to determine if this will be a good decision in the long run. According to MSD Manual, older populations are living longer and their children are also getting older, women are working which limits their time to be caretakers for older parents and the number of health issues people have to deal with is also increasing. Taking care of family members can also cause a lot of stress, frustration and fatigue

Finances

Helping elderly parents manage their money can guide your parents in understanding what is required financially to maintain their lifestyle. Because managing your parents’ money may be new to you, consider researching if there are government programs that will assist elderly parents financially. Their retirement income as well as their social security should be reviewed to understand what they should be receiving and helping them budget for their daily expenses. 

Gather Personal Data Records for Aging Parent Care

As parents get older, keeping track of their important paperwork should be a priority. Gathering important documents for seniors under your care will save you time when you need them in the future. Collecting legal documents such as healthcare documents and estate planning documents will make it easier for you. Having a Power of Attorney (POA) for your elderly parent will help in legal or financial matters as well. Below are a few things to gather:

  • Financial information: Bank accounts, investment accounts, real estate holdings
  • Legal information: Wills, durable power of attorneys, health-care directives
  • Funeral and burial plans: Prepayment information, final wishes
  • Medical information: Health-care providers, medication, medical history
  • Insurance information: Policy numbers, company names
  • Advisor information: Names and phone numbers of any professional service providers
  • Location of other important records: Keys to safe-deposit boxes, real estate deeds 

Get Support and Advice

Finding the right support and good advice can make you feel more confident when dealing with aging parents. If you don’t have siblings that you can discuss with future plans for your parents, maybe try to find close family members or friends that you know will support you in this process and provide you with that needed caregiver support. Throughout this time, finding someone else who can hear your plan or give you advice and support can make this process an easier on not only you, but your parents as well. Some of the services available in your community may include:

  • Caregiver support groups and training
  • Adult day care
  • Respite care
  • Guidelines on how to choose a nursing home
  • Free or low-cost legal advice

A Farm Bureau financial advisor is available to help work through financial arrangements for your parents. Find an advisor in your area today! 

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