As parents age, their adult children often assume greater responsibility for their care. As part of caring for elderly parents or “senior care”, caregivers should assess their parents’ needs and begin collecting information about their legal, financial, and medical status. Here are some additional ways children can prepare for their elderly parents as gracefully as possible.
Begin the Conversation Early
It’s not always easy to raise the subject of elder care with an aging parent. Waiting until after the need becomes acute will only make important decisions more difficult. Elder care specialists suggest holding a family meeting where parents and caregivers can openly and honestly discuss options regarding daily living needs, healthcare, financial security, and legal rights. Opening these lines of communication early lets seniors know that their wishes are being heard and gives caregivers time to define & prepare their new roles.
Collect Key Information
As you assume greater responsibility for caring for your elderly parents, you’ll need access to important information about their health and finances. Begin to collect or make copies of documentation for your parents’ insurance policies (home, health, auto, life, long-term care), Social Security benefits, housing (leases, mortgages), retirement, and bank accounts. Ask your parents to help you compile a list of their doctors’ names, preferred healthcare facilities, and current medications and conditions.
Review Legal Options
Well-constructed legal provisions can help ensure your parents’ wishes regarding their property and care are followed, while giving you the power to step in if they become unable to make decisions for themselves. Make plans to discuss the following legal provisions with your parents and a qualified attorney:
- Wills: provide for the transfer of property when a person passes away.
- Living Wills: communicate end-of-life healthcare wishes.
- Durable Power of Attorney: gives you the ability to make medical, financial, and legal decisions for your parents.
To help parents age as gracefully as possible, gather important info, review options, and if the need arises, get ideas to care for them in your home.
Seniors may need access to a number of different resources, ranging from daily needs such as meals and personal care to quality-of-life issues like social activities and transportation aid. The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration offers an online Eldercare Locator that can connect you with senior services in your area.