How to Help Your Aging Parents
(NewsUSA) - At some point, you may need to step in and help care for the parents who once cared for you. Starting this new role can be a challenge, but with preparation you’ll be ready. These concrete steps will help you support your aging parents.
Start by talking to your parents and family members, and then get others involved, including professionals such as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional or lawyer:
- Sit down with your parents to get a handle on their finances, healthcare, plans for their estate, and other legal matters.
- Looking forward, decide between yourself and your siblings or other family members how you want to approach and share your parents' future care. Will family members divide up responsibilities? Would you prefer to pick one trusted agent to handle these matters? If you decide on someone outside the family, discuss how duties and costs will be shared by family members.
- Be sure to have legal documents in place. This includes current power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney, and a terminal care directive. All of these documents can name a specific person to make decisions during periods of incapacity.
If or when cognitive decline becomes an issue, put systems in place to protect your parents’ finances:
- Make sure bills are physically mailed to the home instead of electronically, where they can be missed.
- Create a separate checking account for discretionary spending that the parent can control with limited overdraft protection.
- Keep money for major bills and savings in a separate account that requires a dual signature.
- Arrange for transaction alerts to be sent to family members to help catch errors and reduce fraud.
- If possible, have a power of attorney on file with Social Security and Medicare, so someone other than your parents can discuss financial issues with these organizations. Common power of attorney forms do not provide this authorization.
Ensure that your parents will have access to the healthcare they want and need as they age:
- Evaluate your own finances to see how you could help in the case of a large medical bill.
- Add your names to the paperwork on file with your doctors’ offices to make sure you and your siblings have a right to inquire about the health of your parents.
- Plan for someone to periodically attend medical appointments to get an understanding of health needs and prescribed medications.
- Evaluate long-term care insurance options that could cover the cost of a home health aide.
- Think about how to help with clothing and food choices, medication management, and meals as your parents’ physical abilities change, such as fading eyesight or decreased mobility.
Safety at Home
Make sure your parent’s house is safe and fits their needs:
- Consider saving up for higher housing expenses, perhaps in a joint account with other family members.
- You may want to hire someone to mow the lawn and do odd jobs to ensure that your parents aren’t climbing ladders or putting themselves at risk doing chores.
- Put in safety rails and non-slip flooring.
- Add lighting by steps, close to doors, and around outside areas.
- Install alarm systems that can be connected to devices to detect falls or health changes, such as heart or blood pressure changes.
Stepping in to help when our aging parents need assistance can seem overwhelming, but only if we’re not prepared. Mapping out a strategy ahead of time, with love and care, can be rewarding and can bring a family even closer together.
A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help you plan for the uncertainties ahead. Visit LetsMakeAPlan.org to find local CFP® professionals near you or your parents today.