Taking Care of Aging Parents, Relatives

If you live long enough to watch your parents or other relatives grow old, your responsibilities in those relationships are likely to shift.

Sooner or later, you’re likely to move from continually receiving their gifts—emotional, physical, or financial—to giving of your own time and effort to help meet their changing needs.

Get real
Experts say most people are overly optimistic about their ability to remain fully independent as they age.

Many people eventually need some type of help, ranging from occasional home maintenance to nursing care.

When people wait too long to discuss long-term care options, they sometimes can’t find the right level of care at the right facility when their need becomes urgent.

Start talking
Start talking now to learn about your aging parents’ desires and options.

One way to get started is looking for conversational “triggers,” such as chatting about a neighbor’s move to an assisted living facility or sharing a brochure about elderly housing options.

Next, shift the conversation to your parents’ plans and preferences by asking “gentle” questions while avoiding the alarming words “nursing home.”

Instead, learn about local options and then visit facilities with your parents. Figure out what they can afford by looking at their budget. If necessary, decide how much you can contribute. Talk to siblings to gain their input and learn whether they can help.

Watch and listen
Seek answers to these questions:

* Are my parents handling financial paperwork, or is it stacking up?
* Do my parents need help with everyday tasks they used to handle themselves?
* Are my parents taking care of their health? Are there signs of incontinence?
* Are my parents able to get around, both within their home and in their community?

When adult children live far from their parents, getting answers may require an extended visit or talking with siblings who live nearby or with the parents’ neighbors.

Plan ahead
As parents’ needs increase, adult children may need legal authority to act on their parents’ behalf. A health care power of attorney and a durable power of attorney typically provide this authority. You also should gather information about parents’ financial accounts, assets, insurance, wills, and health care directives.

Throughout the process, remember to listen carefully to the wishes of elderly parents and then respect their desires as much as possible.

That process benefits everyone involved: By showing respect for your parents’ preferences now, you’ll be better prepared to someday share your own wishes with the next generation of caregivers.

When it’s time to start making financial decisions about the changing needs of your family, a professional at Hopewell Federal Credit Union would be happy to speak with you. Contact us today at 740.522.8311.

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