If you are trying to care for your own children as well as your aging parents, you may feel stressed and overburdened. Sometimes it can be helpful to take a step back and think about the different categories of a parent’s needs. These may range from financial and legal matters to health care decisions and end-of-life planning. If you take the time to understand the various issues that need to be addressed, you can develop a more coherent and comprehensive plan.
For example, many of the most common needs of an elderly person relate to the forms of care and assistance that they may require. They may be able to choose among various types of long-term care, including skilled nursing facilities or assisted living facilities. This decision may depend on the degree to which they can independently handle their needs, as well as the availability of family members who can care for them. In some cases, they may even be able to continue living at home, while receiving care there from a nurse or another professional assistant. An elderly person’s needs may change over time, and you should be ready to adjust your plan accordingly. Once you have determined the nature of the care that they need, you should assess the costs of the care and determine which costs will be covered. They may be covered by a combination of Medicare, Medicaid, and supplemental insurance that fills the gaps in those programs. Long-term care insurance can be an option to consider, but many elderly people do not find that it fits their needs.
Legal and Financial Matters
You may need to help an elderly loved one put certain instruments in place to more effectively manage their affairs as their faculties decline. A financial power of attorney or an advance health care directive can designate people to make decisions for them if they are not able to make them. You may want to consider a conservatorship or an adult guardianship for an elderly person who is suffering from severe cognitive or psychological conditions.
Most elderly people should take the time to create a will so that their property will be distributed as they choose. They may need to revisit the will occasionally and make changes. While neither your loved one nor you may want to consider the eventuality of their death, it may be worth having a sensitive conversation about any preferences that they may have for their burial and funeral. Finally, you should make sure that your loved one provides you with passwords and other information needed to access their financial and estate planning documents. This can prevent any confusion and conflict after their death.
Assistance from Others
You should encourage your elderly loved one to take ownership of this process to the extent possible. As long as they can make their own decisions, other people should not make those decisions for them. However, in the event that they need help, you can consult siblings and other trustworthy family members who have a close relationship with your loved one. In some cases, an elderly loved one may require professional assistance from outsiders, such as home health aides. You should make sure that you trust these people and can afford their services. Sometimes Medicaid or health insurance policies will help cover the costs.