Tuesday, June 25, 2019

They spent their best years taking care of you and now it’s time to return the favor. Our aging parents shouldn’t be a burden or an afterthought, but without the proper planning, their care can become overwhelming. Unfortunately, a lot of people fail to plan ahead and end up making all of their decisions in emergency situations when tensions are high and funds may be low. In order to avoid feeling like everything is urgent with your parents, it’s best to take a few precautions in advance.

Have a family meeting

This could possibly be the most difficult thing you’ll ever have to talk about, especially if there are siblings involved and if your parents are resistant. But as soon as you start to notice signs that your parents need more care than usual, your family will need to discuss some important matters. Involve your parents as much as you can if they are mentally capable of having the discussion and come up with a plan for their future. You should make a list of their needs, such as trips to the doctor, home repairs or modifications, and meals. You will then need to designate family members who will take care of these matters and keep track of them in a location where everyone can find.

Address all medical needs

If your parents are starting to require more care from the family, it’s probably a good time to revisit their primary care physician with them. You will need to discuss any medical or dental needs they may have that you may not have been aware of. For example, do they need or use dentures? Are there any prescriptions they are supposed to be on that they may not have been taking? These are just a few of the questions to have clarified by their primary care physician.

Assess their living situation

Most people want their loved ones to remain in their homes as long as possible. It is, after all, where they’re most comfortable. But there may come a time when they simply can’t care for themselves as they once did. The first step for them may be a retirement community where they can still care for themselves in most capacities, but be surrounded by people in their age group. This allows for a more active social life in a safer environment. The next step may be something like an assisted living facility in Swartz Creek, MI. When and if they become completely unable to care for themselves, a nursing home or in-home care may be the best option. It’s good to discuss these matters with their doctors and your family before making any major decisions.

Assess their finances

Finances are never fun to hash out, but unless you get a handle on what your parents’ money situation is, you won’t know what kind of care they can afford. If they don’t currently have life insurance, you can speak to someone in a life insurance prelicensing program or a licensed agent to discuss their options. You will also need to take inventory of all their bank accounts and investments to get a good view of their portfolio. It’s also best to talk to a financial advisor as quickly as possible to get any financial matters straightened out before they are unable to do so themselves.

Most importantly, try to include your parents in all your decisions as much as possible, but let go of the guilt you may feel when you can’t. The frustrations and stress that come along with this process can feel overwhelming to everyone involved. The best thing you can do is ask for help from family members and health providers and allow others to share the burden.

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