January 17, 2019
Every person has different concerns as they age, and as an adult child of an aging parent, you want your loved one to enjoy a good quality of life—no matter the situation. Even if your parent still lives fairly independently, it’s never too early to make a plan to support your mom or dad as they age.
According to the AARP, many adult children and older parents wait until an emergency or crisis happens before they talk about support needs. But the small, early signs that your loved one needs additional support may already be there. Take note of changes in health, ability to do daily tasks, feelings of isolation, or differences in behavior. It’s important to stay tuned in to any changes that merit more support.
To help you feel more prepared, use these steps to address the big concerns and make a plan together for long-term care and well-being.
1. Start the Conversation Early
It’s important to be proactive in your approach to finding the best support for your loved one—today and in the future. By starting the conversation early, you’ll be able to have everyone at the table and make decisions together. Even if he or she is hesitant at first to talk, keep trying through smaller questions or conversations. Ask your parent about his or her wishes and allow siblings or other significant loved ones to share concerns. When the time comes to get additional support or move to a location that provides care, you and your parent will be prepared.
2. Review Health Needs
How are your parent’s health conditions affecting his or her daily life now, and how will they affect life in the coming years? If you notice new health complaints or aches and pains getting in the way of your parent’s everyday life, it may be time to reconsider living arrangements, the types of support needed, and long-term plans.
Before a health emergency happens, be prepared by making sure your parent has completed a Living Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Power of Attorney. These important documents allow you—or someone your parent designates—to make decisions when he or she is no longer able to do so.
3. Consider Finances
Are your parent’s finances in a good place? While this topic made be one of the hardest to discuss, finances are an important piece of the plan to provide your loved one support. Talk through your parent’s current financial situation and talk about what you can do to help ease the burden of keeping finances in order. Sometimes this may be as simple as helping with bill payments.
If your parent is reluctant to talk about finances or has a complex situation, it’s often helpful to consult with a professional, such as a certified financial planner, who can walk you both through these important decisions.
4. Explore Support Options
According to a study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, most people significantly underestimate the likelihood they will need long-term care. However, approximately 70 percent of senior adults will eventually need help caring for themselves. Explore the options for long-term care together.
If your mom or dad is ready to visit assisted living communities, help schedule tours, go on the visits to ask questions, and show your support. The transition will be smoother if you’ve considered options as a team.
5. Communicate About Your Plan
Once you’ve made a plan to support your aging parent, it’s important to consistently check in to ensure his or her needs are still being met. If you decided it wasn’t quite time to change living arrangements or get outside support, keep the conversation going and re-evaluate as situations change.
We’re here to help you navigate the important decisions about providing support for your aging parent. Call (214) 361-8923 and see how we may be able to help.