Options for Caring for Aging Parents

Options for Caring for Aging Parents

According to a recent Gallup poll, 41% of baby-boomers are helping care for an elderly parent.  If your parents are at an age where plans and decisions should be made, you should be actively involved in choices affecting the entire family.  Care options for an aging adult range from minimal assistance with everyday living to residence in an assisted-living or nursing facility.  The cost of care also varies, but MetLife estimates the average in-home care price at $20 per hour, and of staying in an assisted-living residence at $36,000 per year.

Many other factors also affect decisions on care for an elderly relative.  Can the children provide or assist with care, or do they live too far away or have other obligations?  Someone fairly mobile and clear-minded will require less extensive help than someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or with mobility issues.   Most important are the wishes of the elderly themselves.  The vast majority will want to stay in their own home.

In discussing this issue with your parents, you must respect the fact that they are adults and want as much control as possible over their lives.  To help them make informed decisions, tactfully ask what arrangements may already be in place.  If they seem reluctant to discuss financial matters, try telling them that you are making your own plans and want advice.  Be prepared for discomfort, or even anger, on their part, but don’t back down or respond in kind.  This is important and should not be put off.

What you need to know first is whether your parents have wills (including a living will), life insurance and/or long term care policies, and legal power of attorney documents.  Make certain to get contact information for all doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc., as well as a list of medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.  Satisfy yourself that they know where their Social Security, health and Medicare cards are and help them replace any that are missing or expired.

Once you have a clear idea of your parents’ financial circumstances, and their doctor has evaluated the level of care needed, visit Medicare and government benefits websites to determine what will and won’t be paid for.  If they can stay in their homes, look into community services available, such as delivered hot meals, transportation, help with utilities, senior citizen centers, and volunteer organizations that work with the elderly.  Investigate products to help them at home, like antiscald shower heads, shower or bath seats, medication reminder aids, reach extenders, etc.

If more extensive assistance is needed, check the availability of adult daycare and in-home personal care.  Help with a parent suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s can be found by calling the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center in Orlando for information about or referral to an appropriate agency.

It is important to find a way to balance your elderly parents’ need for the care that they must have to be safe and healthy with their desire to be independent.  There are people and organizations out there that can make this daunting task much easier.  With their help, you and your parents can make good decisions that will have a positive impact on your family.

Our counselors and RNs at Partners in Healthcare are available to talk with you about your in-home care needs including how to keep them safe at home while providing better, affordable care. We are a senior care agency providing Elder Care in Orlando.

Hank Charpentier

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