Making Informed Decisions On Eldercare

As our parents continue to age, caregivers need to realize that they will be living longer than adults did in the past. With longer life comes an extended period of time to have to deal with financial issues, healthcare, legal matters and eventually long-term care situations. When it comes time to sit down as a family, with your aging relatives, there are many items that should be discussed with them.

Remember, your parents are accustomed to being the caregivers are still likely look at their role in your life as the one who is in charge. They will have to be gently led to the idea that they have to relinquish control and allow other family members in to help address key concern areas.

These areas that the entire family needs to be aware of include:

  • The state of their financial affairs. This includes the amount of money they have coming in and how much they have to pay in monthly bills
  • Do they have a will or a living will? Do family members know where the financial records, insurance policies, tax returns, bank account statements, etc. are filed?
  • Do they have long term care insurance?
  • Look into the community services that are available and what services your parents either need now or may need in the future; this includes information on whether and where they will live if they need a long term care or assisted living facility
  • Have they applied for, and are they receiving, all of the pension and Social Security benefits to which they are entitled?
  • Who is, or will be in charge of finances once your parents can no longer do this themselves? You may need to set up a power of attorney so there will be a seamless transition in the event your parents become incapacitated and can no longer manage their finances
  • What kind of health insurance do your parents have? Do you, and they, understand the coverage available as well as any deductibles that may be involved in the policy?
  • Have they applied for Medicare or Medicaid if eligible?
  • Do you have a list of their medications and dosages?
  • Is there a list of your parents’ doctors available for all family members in the event of an emergency?

When it comes to your parents’ current living situation, here are some items you will need to discuss with them and take into consideration when determining whether they can, or should remain in their current household:

  • Are they healthy enough to age in place?
  • Do they need help with household chores such as cooking, cleaning or laundry for which you could hire occasional help?
  • Has the house been age-proofed? Is the bathroom easily accessible for those with limited mobility? Are the rugs non-slip? Are the items in the cupboards easily accessible?
  • Have you made an investment in a home medical alert system? These devices made it possible for your aging relatives to age in place with the peace of mind with knowing that if your relatives suffer a slip or fall or other health emergency, they will be able to summon assistance at the push of a button on their medical alert pendant.
  • If they become housebound is there a community service organization that provides Meals-on-Wheels assistance?
  • Are there local community and senior centered organizations that can provide low cost home repairs or modifications to bring the house up to date on senior friendly options?

With care and planning, prior to an immediate need, your aging parents and the family members can work toward a smooth transition from total independence to assisted living in some form.

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