When you realize that it’s time to start caring for aging parents, the information available can be overwhelming. For you, this is often the next big life event after raising a family, but before your own retirement. And it’s a huge change for your parents. Here are some ideas to get started and begin the discussion with your mother and father or other family members.
Evaluate Your Parent’s Circumstances
This will greatly determine the next few steps you take. Family members and friends who see your parent on a regular basis are a good source of information about how day-to-day life is going. A physician who’s familiar with your parent is another great resource. Ask these people if they’ve noticed any big changes in behavior, health or social interaction. Ask yourself if things would improve with a new living situation? There are also professional geriatric counselors, nurses or social workers that can be hired to do an assessment. These experts may be independent contractors or work for a continuing care facility.
Determine what steps are best for your parent in the short and long term.
Medical and cognitive issues need to be taken into consideration for this step. One solution that many families caring for aging parents choose is a continuing care retirement community. These communities often can provide different levels of living and medical facilities for their residents. Residents typically move into a living situation that is appropriate for them, and then are able to transfer within the community as needs change. This may include a move to a facility with more medical help or assistance with cognitive difficulties.
Address Financial Issues
Financial issues can be tricky as well, but need to be addressed. The earlier an adult child has these discussions with Mom or Dad, the better. Make sure there are realistic expectations within financial means. Do some careful research on costs, fees and possible increases. Make sure there are financial plans should a serious medical issue arise. These financial discussions are tough, but will help when there are decisions to be made.
Your research may also include sorting through other information. Books, such as When the Time Comes by Paula Span, can give you more insights. AARP has reliable information and the Internet also has a vast array of sites you can check out.
It’s a large task, but understanding all your options can ease caring for aging parents. Take the time now to do your homework.