5 Tips on Caring for Elderly Parents
Providing care for an aging parents can be hard. Getting older comes with emotional, physical, and sometimes, financial stress. As each generation gets older and we are faced with the issue of caregiving, we start thinking about how we can help our parents live happy and fulfilled lives.
Here are a few tips on how to care for aging parents and use the resources available to you.
1. Help make sure finances are in order
According to the National Center for Help Statistics, five to ten percent of older Americans need assistance when it comes to money management. Even in cases where parents are more than capable of handling their own finances, it’s practical to discuss their financial state. Talk about any substantial debts, how are they with payments, and how they’re doing with monthly living expenses. Pay attention to these signs that aging parents need a helping hand with finances:
- They are sent unpaid bills, second notices or have paid the same bill more than once.
- There are unusual purchases on their debt and credit card statements.
- They are struggling with basic ADLs.
- They have fallen victim to scams or fraud.
A great way to help parents handle day-to-day activities and make it easier for them to be on top of their bills is to automate their finances. Many monthly bills can be set to recurring so the task of remembering to pay which bill when is eliminated. Helping your aging parents identify scams is also a fantastic way of securing their finances. Seniors in cognitive decline are more susceptible to financial scams and are more vulnerable making them a target for financial scams. Here are a few types of scams to be aware of:
- Lottery scams
- Phishing scams
- Medicare scams
- Telemarketing scams
- Charity scams
A final piece of advice to make sure finances are in order is to keep track of any income sources and financial documentation. In cases where elderly parents suffer from dementia or other cognitive disorders, it’s important to have and keep crucial documents in one place. Find and keep records of any financial accounts and important insurance information. Aging parents may have purchased life insurance policies that have not been claimed and it’s important to make note and keep track of these important documentation and keep current on any and all insurance policies.
Aging parents can also opt to raise money by selling their life insurance policy through a viatical settlement or life settlement. Aging parents can opt for a viatical settlement if they are diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness and are unfortunately given the life expectancy of less than two years. Life settlements occur when life expectancy is more than two years. In both cases, policy holders will be able to sell their life insurance to a third party for a lump sum. If your parents are 70 years old or older and hold a life insurance policy with a face value of more than $100,000, they may be a good candidate for a viatical or life settlement.
Take into account your parents’ financial state. Itemize income sources from pension checks, income from investments, disability money, Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits. Knowing how much net income your parents have will go a long way in terms of budgeting and figuring out expenses.
2. Ensure they are comfortable where they live
Where aging parents live can have a big impact on their health and overall wellbeing. Have conversations with your parents on if they want to live at home or are open to moving somewhere closer to you or other relatives. Would they be open to living in an assisted living facility or independent living communities? Here are a couple of tips for caring for aging parents in different types of living situations
Aging Parents at Home
For a multitude of reasons, families may choose to care for aging family members at home. Remember that if you are your parents’ caregiver, it’s essential that you take your own health into consideration as well. Caregiving is a stressful and taxing job and it’s essential that you stay healthy so you can continue providing care to your aging parents. Make sure you understand how much care your parents require, what their medical needs are, and any tasks or to-dos that they need help with.
It’s also important to be realistic about how much care and attention you can provide without burning out. If you do find yourself feeling stretched, make sure you get help. See if family members can step in and help out with care or hire a caregiver for your parents. Caregivers can help aging parents with healthcare and chores.
Independent Living Communities
These communities are suited best to active and independent seniors who rent or buy a home or apartment in a community with other seniors. These communities provide no medical support but provide other amenities such as gyms, yard maintenance, housekeeping, security, and transportation.
With parents in independent living communities, make sure they are able to handle the financial requirements. Houses or condos in these communities are either purchased or require monthly rentals. Most communities also have fees associated to maintain quality of lifestyle such community and building maintenance and any activities or services.
Assisted Living and Nursing Homes
Parents in assisted living communities or nursing homes require more help with daily activities such as meals, dressing, bathing, or help with medication or transportation.
Some parents who move into assisted living facilities can find it difficult and encounter some feelings of abandonment and some frustration over loss of independence. Acknowledge that this is a transition for your parents as well as for everyone in your immediate family. Visit often during the first few days after a move to ensure that they don’t feel abandoned but allow your parents to be independent. Allow them to adapt into their new home and participate in activities and events around the community. Help your aging parents feel more at home in their new space by bringing personal items into their new living space. Even arranging their new living area like their home can be enough to put aging parents at ease.
3. Make sure their daily living requirements are met
Take a practical and honest look into the support and needs your parents have in terms of activities of daily living (ADL). Make sure they are able to satisfy basic daily living tasks such as:
- Mobility (getting in and out of bed, in out of chairs, etc.)
- Bathing and Personal Hygiene
- Toilet Hygiene
It’s important to take the overall well being of elderly parents. If they are not able to meet basic activities of daily living requirements effectively and consistently, ask for help. Turn to siblings if you have any to help shoulder the tasks or even other close relatives. If your parents have any mobility or health issues that are beyond your care or make it impossible for them to live independently, finding appropriate care for them is crucial. This can be investing in proper equipment to help them with daily tasks and chores or going as far as employing a caregiver.
4. Encourage your parents to be more active and social
Keeping parents engaged and active in their social life is also a fantastic way to help them live a more fulfilling life as they age. Getting out for a daily walk or getting out to visit with a friend can help seniors from feeling isolated and lonely. If your parents are living at home, encourage them to participate in book clubs or meet ups centered around their favorite hobby or activity. Getting aging parents out and getting them involved in a hobby they like with like minded adults will help them feel happier and more engaged.
If your parents live in an independent living or assisted facility, encourage them to take part in community activities. Many facilities offer workshops and classes to help ease new members into the community and get them socializing with each other. Many senior living communities provide group activities such as exploring nearby areas or landmarks, group exercise classes, or other group events. Encourage your parents to find a social event they’re interested in and make new connections.
It’s also a great idea to incorporate the advantages of technology to aging parents’ daily life so they can continue to be connected with friends and loved ones. Teach seniors how to video call so that they can catch up with friends who have moved or live in other cities. Knowing how to video call can also help in keeping them in touch with family members and help them feel included in their family’s daily life.
5. Take advantage of your community and know when to seek help
Know that when caring for an elderly parent that you are not alone. There are many groups and organizations with people in similar situations as you that are willing to answer any and all questions you may have and point you to resources that might help you in your particular situation. Educate yourself on the supportive groups that are poised to give the best advice and assistance. Here are a couple of great resources to get you started:
Benefits.gov is the official benefits website from the U.S. government. On this website, you can find information on thousands of benefit and assistance programs. Find programs covering health, disability, income, veterans, and more. The Benefits CheckUp from the National Council on Aging is a free service to help you and your aging parent determine which programs are available to you.
Meals on Wheels is the largest provider of senior meal services in the U.S. Meals on Wheels provides meals to seniors who are unable to leave their homes or prepare meals. Dietary needs of each elderly person are taken into account when meals are made and delivered and nutritional information is available upon request.
Another option is to take advantage of the many meal kit delivery services available now. Companies like HelloFresh, Home Chef, and Blue Apron deliver all the ingredients and instructions of pre-picked meals and deliver them to your front door. Meal delivery takes the guesswork out of grocery shopping or meal planning and makes sure loved ones are still getting healthy delicious meals.
If you or your loved one needs assistance on ways to afford any future expenses, Harbor Life Settlements can help. Get in touch with one of our professionals today!