Whether it’s your home or theirs, these 5 tips will help you navigate their care.
Caring for elderly parents at home, whether in yours or theirs, can be a daunting task. However, thoughtful consideration of all the ins-and-outs and a bit of planning can make it more manageable. These are our 5 tips to help keep you organized and sane.
While some seniors prefer to age in place, others may decide on an assisted living arrangement. If your parents are mentally fit, you can help them plan for that. The problem here is that they may wait too long to make the move. The first step is to talk with your parents about their wishes before they can no longer make an informed decision. Be considerate but frank.
Before you do “have the talk” with your loved ones, you must have a good understanding of their ability to manage the activities of daily living:
If they can manage on their own, you’re in great shape. If not, think about solutions: in-home support staff vs. you or another family member.
Create a list of tasks and assign them to daily, weekly, and monthly categories and evaluate your parents’ abilities to carry out simple chores:
It helps to make a note every time your parents need help. By the time a week has passed, you’ll have a good idea of where they need help and how often.
Once you know what’s needed, be realistic about your ability to take care of those tasks. If you don’t think you can manage it all, consider what you can do, and what you need help with.
There are real costs to caring for elderly parents, and they can add up. You’ll need to assess your parents’ income and expenses. How much can you contribute financially? An honest appraisal of the finances prepares you to plan ahead to fill the gaps.
Check for federal, state, or local benefit programs your parents may be eligible to receive. Some examples are reduced-cost prescription programs, Medicaid, in-home health support, or senior discounts for goods or services like haircuts, restaurants, etc.
If you work, can you afford to quit your job or reduce your hours? Remember to think about your own benefits, such as health insurance, disability benefits, retirement, etc. Does your employer have family leave or flex-time policies that you could utilize?
It’s also important to think about your employability if you return to work later. Will your skills be up-to-date? Think about how long it might be before you can go back to work; how will you explain a long absence from the workforce and reassure prospective employers.
With the best will in the world, you’ll need a break from time to time. If you investigate respite care now, you’ll have options and be ready for the day you need time off. Try to plan for respite care 3 or 4 times a month so that you don’t burn out. Some ideas for where to find the help you need are:
These 5 tips are not meant to be all-inclusive. But if you’re caring for your parents at home, it’s a good start. Other considerations will occur to you as you work through these items. With planning, you can make things a lot easier for everyone.