Taking Care of Elderly Parents – Top Tips and How To

One of the most complicated processes in adult life is caring for elderly parents who need help. Approaching them can be a delicate situation. It can also be one met with resistance so it must be carefully planned and well thought out.

Finding proper care for your loved one is a multi-step process. The first step is to identify their needs. Once you know what they need, you’ll need to do research and financial planning. Coming up with the right course of action means making sure they are comfortable and involved in the process.

Reversing Roles Between Parent and Child 

How to Approach a Loved One When They Need Care 

It’s not always easy finding the right way to speak to an elderly parent about care. They may believe they are still capable of caring for themselves without help. Seniors take pride in their independence and may take some convincing to be willing to give it up. Communication is essential.

Often, a loved one will show resistance towards getting help. Needing assistance is a difficult thing for many to accept as it can feel like a sign of weakness. It can damage pride or feel like defeat.

Finding the Right Time For “The Talk” 

It may be helpful to decide on a particular age to discuss care options. It is important to have the discussion while your loved one still has their mental and physical health on their side. If you have a larger family, you also may want to make care arrangements where you split the duties up in a way that is convenient for everyone.

Once you decide how you will approach your loved one about care options, you’ll want to make sure you’re well prepared. Be ready to offer information on assisted living communities in your neighborhood. Explain how the senior care services may be able to make life easier for both of you. Show how you will continue to support them and be involved in their lives. Strive for peace of mind for everyone involved.

Deciding What Type of Care to Seek 

Depending on their health and age, you’ll want to figure out what kind of care your loved one needs and decide how you’ll go about getting it for them. Your parent may only need part-time assistance and be capable of staying at home. They may need an entirely new living arrangement where full-time monitoring is necessary.

Moreover, when assessing needs, the person you are caring for should be involved in every step of the planning process. Your parent should be comfortable with whichever arrangements you decide on together. Knowing what their preferences and priorities are will go a long way in helping to figure out what is best for them.

Your loved one should be in a familiar setting where they are free to interact with others. Respecting their needs is important. They should continue to receive the proper attention no matter where they are.

Finding Care 

If you come to an agreement that care is necessary, you may not be able to handle everything yourself. You’ll want to look into what your options are. The Eldercare Locator is a useful tool run by the Department of Health and Human Services. The tool allows you to search by location and topic to assist you in caring for elderly parents.

Finances 

Caregiving Budget 

Caring for aging parents can be extremely expensive, and it can also be time-consuming. One of the first steps you should take is determining your budget for senior living care. For most seniors, their homes are their biggest assets. If you decide that your loved one can no longer live on their own, an option is to sell or rent the home. You may choose to use the proceeds to fund their living arrangements going forward.

A reverse-annuity mortgage could be another option. This option allows seniors to collect a monthly payment or lump sum. The money can alleviate senior housing costs without having to give the home up.

Balancing Work and Care 

You may decide to take on most of the responsibilities of caring for elderly parents on your own. However, it can be difficult to find a way to balance a full-time job at the same time.

Depending on your profession and flexibility, there are a few things you may be able to do to free up time and availability to be with your loved one. Some of these tips include:

  • Notifying your boss/employer – It can help to make them aware of your situation so that they understand the challenges you are facing. Let them know that you are committed to your work
  • Changing your work hours – This isn’t always feasible, but certain jobs allow for more flexible hours and are forgiving when it comes to taking care of elderly parents
  • Considering telecommuting/working from home – Some employers offer full-time telecommuting jobs. Others allow for a certain amount of telecommuting time per week. You may also consider transferring to another location if it is an option that would enable you to be closer to your loved one.
  • Consider taking leave – Policies vary widely from company to company, but you may be able to take paid leave for a certain amount of time. It’s also possible you’ll need to spend your paid vacation time caring for elderly parents.

Three states currently have paid family leave programs (California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.) New York will join them in 2018. The programs are designed for those who are temporarily disabled, taking care of new children or caring for elderly parents. 

Understanding Medicare/Medicaid Programs 

It could be beneficial to look into programs such as PACE (Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) and see if your parent is eligible for their services. According to the government-run Medicaid site, eligibility relies on these conditions:

  • Age 55 or older
  • Living in the service area of a PACE organization
  • Eligible for nursing home care
  • Be able to live safely in the community

You can also find and compare home health agencies using a search feature that allows you to see how they are rated. There are numerous resources and data available to make an informed decision.

Caring For Yourself and Your Future 

Caregiver Stress 

Caring for elderly parents can take its toll and be particularly stressful on the caregiver. Numerous signs and symptoms may signify burnout. These may include:

  • Anxiety, depression, irritability
  • Feeling drained and run down
  • Having difficulty sleeping at night
  • Overreacting to minor situations
  • Health issues appearing or worsening
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling resentful
  • Drinking, smoking, eating more
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • No longer participating in leisure activities

It is impossible to adequately care for the elderly if you’re not taking care of yourself first. There are numerous steps you can take to prevent or relieve caregiver stress such as:

  • Learn better ways to help your loved one. There are classes offered in this regard that can be especially useful.
  • Look for caregiving resources in your community to help take some of the burdens off of you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can make a list of things you need a hand with and enlist those around you for assistance.
  • Join a caregiver support group so that you can share stories and pick up tips on caring for seniors
  • Get organized by making lists and setting a daily routine.
  • Take time out for yourself to do the things that you love and keep in touch with friends.
  • Take care of yourself by making sure you get exercise, eat well and get enough sleep.
  • See your doctor regularly and let he or her know that you are a caregiver

Saving for Retirement 

The financial aspect relative to the cost of care is difficult to manage. Caregivers also need to prepare and take charge of their future as well.

Planning your own future is important. You’ll want to figure out your sources of retirement income and calculate what you need to live when you retire. You’ll need to know what to expect from Social Security and other plans, calculate your net worth, how much you’ll need and plan accordingly.

Deciding what is best for parents who need extra care and attention is both an important and involved process. It requires a lot of planning and dedication. To get a loved one the proper assistance, you’ll want to explore all your options and figure out the approach that keeps them the happiest.

Do you have experience caring for an elderly parent or have any tips/suggestions that we may have missed? Let us know in the comments section!

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