Making A Plan: Caring For Aging Parents

caring for aging parents

Your parents have been there for you through so much and now you want to be there for them. Getting older isn’t easy. It’s also not easy for the caretakers. Caring for aging parents takes a lot of time. And a lot of money. 

If an aging parent needs long-term care and they use paid care, their out-of-pocket cost will be around $140,000. This cost is typically spread over just a few years. A very overwhelming expense to add to your monthly bills. 

For this reason, people will try to avoid getting paid help and take on as much of the caregiving as they can. Leaving them drained with little time. They may even need to quit their job or cut back on hours. Completely changing their financial situation. AARP research showed that about 1 in 5 adults are unpaid family caregivers.

Determine If You Need Outside Help With Caring For Your Aging Parents 

Making a plan for caring for aging parents is the first step. You need to evaluate the needs of your parents as well as your needs. Are you caring for children at home? Do you work outside the home? Or do you have space in your house for an aging parent? 

Consider these areas when evaluating the needs of your parent:

Physical Safety 

Look at their house dynamics. Are they able to manage stairs? Can they stay safe in their current environment when taking into account their strength and mental state? Are they able to complete daily hygiene tasks on their own? 

They may need a wheelchair or cane to help them get around. Work with your parent and come up with any modifications they may need in their home or daily life in order to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. 

Cognitive and Mental Health

Do they have any level of dementia? Consider their ability to remember to turn off the oven or close the front door. Their cognitive abilities will affect day-to-day chores and activities. And their mental health condition may require more support than they can receive when living on their own. 

Social isolation increases a person’s risk of premature death. Seniors need social connections to thrive. Consider social needs when making a plan for caring for your aging parents. 

Meals

If they’re unable to get around the house and make their own food they’ll need a caregiver at their house. Or they will need to move to where they can be taken care of. If they are able to cook but they can’t get to the grocery store on their own, they’ll need groceries delivered.

Also, take into account any specific diet they eat to help them stay healthy with any medical conditions.  

Mobility and Transportation

Can they drive? Do they live somewhere where a family member can drive them to the grocery store or appointments? Are they able to get around the house easily to get what they need? Consider their daily, weekly, and monthly routine.  

Medical Needs

Do they have medication they need to take every day? Are they able to remember to do this on their own? Consider doctor’s appointments, treatments, and getting their prescriptions. 

Programs Available to Help With Caring For Aging Parents

There are a lot of organizations that are built with seniors in mind. Some of these programs help seniors stay in their own homes longer and maintain some independence. Setting up these programs to help care for your aging parent can relieve some of the stress of doing it all on your own.

Meals On Wheels

Getting food on the table can be a real challenge for aging parents. Meals on Wheels Association of America helps provide delivered meals to seniors. They have locally operated programs all over America. Look up the meals on wheels program in your community

Independent Transportation Network

Transportation is another part of caring for aging parents. Independent Transportation Network provides rides to seniors for a membership fee.

Family Caregiver Alliance 

This program provides services to caregivers of aging parents who have physical and cognitive impairments (dementia, Parkinsons, stroke, etc). You can also lookup services for your specific state

AARP

AARP has a lot of resources to educate caregivers and help them with caring for aging parents. Part of taking care of your parent is advocating for their needs. You can’t do that without learning about those needs and what you can do for them. 

Programs Available to Help With The Expense of Caring For Aging Parents

caring for aging parents

As you’re making your plan for caring for aging parents, make sure you’re using all of the benefits available. You can use this benefit finder to look for programs available for your senior parent. Eldercare Locator is another way to find helpful programs in your community. 

Medicare

If your parent is over 65 they can receive medical insurance with Medicare. Make sure you aren’t paying out of pocket for something that could be paid for with Medicare. Medicare may cover medical care from skilled doctors and nurses that is prescribed.  

Medicaid 

Low-income Americans may qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid covers more than what you will get with medicare. It covers some types of long-term care and home-based services. 

Department of Veterans Affairs

You can get many services for an aging veteran or their surviving spouse with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Learn about their veteran directed care services and caregiver support program.

Long-Term Care Insurance For Aging Parents

The cost of a nursing home facility varies by state, but the national average for a private room is $108,405 annually. This is why many people use long-term care insurance or long term care riders to plan for this part of life. 

If you have an insurance policy that doesn’t have a long-term care rider, you could consider selling it in a life settlement. This will give you a lump sum to help pay for long term care. The buyer takes over the premiums and receives the death benefit. You can check if an insurance policy may qualify for a life settlement with a life settlement calculator

Caring for aging parents is overwhelming and the responsibility can be placed on you quickly. Come up with a plan to lessen the load as much as possible. 

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