A wave of retiring Baby Boomers, depleted retirement savings and pensions after the Great Recession, and rising costs at assisted living facilities have combined into a sharp increase of adult children caring for their aging parents. But even if you’ve always planned to care for your parents in their old age, the role reversal can be stressful for all involved. The best way to ensure a smooth transition is to be aware of some of the challenges and to prepare as best you can. Here are a few tips and ideas to help get you started as you plan for your role reversal and take on the care of your elderly parents:
Decide on a living situation
Many elderly parents will insist on staying in their own home, which is ideal if they don’t live too far away and they are able to maintain some independence. Their overall health should also be taken into consideration when deciding where they will live. It is not, however, necessary for them to be able to do everything independently even if they remain in their own home. In-home care is available to help with daily tasks and personal care as needed.
Injury-proof the home
Whether your aging parent plans to live with your or remain at home, certain modifications are necessary to prevent injury. Basic equipment includes carbon monoxide detectors, specialty smoke detectors with strobe lights or vibration, grab bars in the shower and near the toilet, and anti-scald devices for showers and faucets to prevent serious burns. Also be sure to remove rugs from high-traffic areas to reduce the risk of falling.
Craft a caregiving budget
Being responsible for an elderly parent is a huge financial commitment, even if your parent will be living with you. That’s why it’s vital to have a caregiving budget: make a comprehensive list of caregiving expenses and compare it to your available resources. With a clear picture of your finances (and possibly some creative budgeting), you can reduce the likelihood of unexpected financial stress down the road.
Learn about Medicare and Medicaid
Part of being responsible for an aging parent is staying abreast of their medical conditions and needs. Familiarize yourself with Medicare, Medicaid, and all the details of coverage including prescriptions, co-pays, and out-of-pocket limits. You don’t want to be caught off-guard by what Medicare and Medicaid do not cover.
Watch out for scams
Sadly, financial abuse of the elderly is another growing trend with no end in sight, so educate your aging parent on the prevalence of online and phone-based scams, some of which seem completely legitimate on the surface. A recent one making the news involves someone allegedly calling from the IRS, demanding payment for back taxes and threatening police involvement, but others are more subtle, including scammers developing online “friendships” with the elderly and then suddenly needing money after a health or financial crisis.
Cultivate social engagements
Whether you work full time or not, you should not be the primary source of your aging parent’s social life. So if you have the means, sign your parent up for classes, clubs, or social groups, or contact organizations like Senior Corps, which arranges volunteer programs to help kids, teens, new business owners and others. Social experiences of all kinds will help keep your parents engaged, stimulated, and connected to the world at large.
Consider professional help
If your parent needs more assistance, supervision, or companionship than you can provide in your home or theirs, it might be time to consider hiring professional caregivers. At Avalon Home Care, we offer a variety of home care options including homemaking, companionship, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Some of our services are even covered by insurance. Call a Personal Care Advisor today at 1-800-723-4197 for help in finding the best option available for you and your aging parent.