Watching your parents, or any elderly relatives you’re close to grow older can take such an emotional toll. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that each of us will have to deal with it in one form or another at some point in our lives.
Knowing that this time is either approaching or already upon you and your family, what can you do to prepare?
1. Recognize the need. Every individual will have their own set of needs, depending on their personality, stage of life, and overall health. If you’re already assisting them, start to take note of each task you do for them, no matter how small it may seem. If you’re just beginning to recognize they might need help, walk through their daily routine and see where gaps may be or where things are falling through the cracks. Start to discuss with them what type of help they might need. There are so many resources available. It is important to be educated and to also make sure all family members on the same page when making such a big decision.
2. Explore all options for senior housing. There are several types to consider, from full time 24 hour care, to assisted living, where they may need only a few hours a day, or memory care, which is designed to help with a person who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. You will also need to decide whether you want your loved one to stay in their own home, or be moved to a facility that can better serve them. It may seem overwhelming to make these decisions, and can be an emotional transition for everyone. It is important to keep your loved one informed and part of the decision making process as much as possible.
3. Review their financial resources. You will want to know their net worth. Calculate all of their retirement savings, their social security, pensions, and other assets. Based on their current monthly income how long will the money last? Do they have long term care insurance or other income? Do they have any debt that they will need to pay off? Also, this will be a good time to determine who should have power of attorney and financial oversight of their accounts.
4. Gather legal and medical documents. A master folder that houses all of the important documents, like marriage certificates, insurance forms, power of attorney, a list of passwords to accounts, and their will, can make this process much more organized. Having these things set aside in advance will be helpful to prepare for any emergency situations.
These changes are hard for everyone. Addressing some of these concerns head-on will help you be prepared when it is time to make these weighty decisions.