Caring for Your Elderly Parents

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Caring for an aging parent can be complicated, especially when dementia, Alzheimer's, or any other chronic memory loss disease is involved. The role reversal from the years they spent taking care of you can often be a challenge. However, one must keep in mind how challenging it is for the elderly parent, so providing support and comfort to help them through this difficult situation is crucial.

The costs and level of commitment of in-home care may be intimidating for you and for your parent/parents. When you choose to keep your parent out of a professional home, the more you plan, the less stressful it will be. Here are six tips to consider while you care for your aging parents:

1- Budget specifically for caregiving

Put together a financial budget of your parent’s resources and plan how they might be better used to support caregiving activities. Look at your own finances and put together a comprehensive look at what you are spending on caregiving. Budgeting both of your resources can help each of you in the short term and in the long run.

2- Explore free or low-cost public benefits

Even when you choose to keep your aging parent in-home, it is expected (and okay) if you still need some help from a professional caregiver. There are several public resources available to help those who find themselves in the position of elderly care. The government offers an eldercare locator and you can search for local organizations who specialize in helping both those in need of care and those in need of help when taking care of loved ones.

3- Learn about Your State’s Medicaid Requirements

If your parent is eligible, Medicaid covers medical care and at-home long-term services and custodial care. Find out what Medicaid coverage your parents have based on the state they live in so that you can get the necessary financial assistance. 

4- Make it easy for them

Nobody wants to grow old, but even more so, nobody wants to do it without dignity and grace. For someone struggling with sensory and memory problems, this can be a time of frustration. Try making this difficult time as easy as possible for them with helpful things, such as dementia clocks, which spell out the full day of the week with no confusing abbreviations, and in large-easy-to-read fonts. If your parent has trouble hearing, sound amplification devices will allow your loved one to hear the phone ring, listen to music, or comfortably watch tv.

5- Watch out for financial scams

Unfortunately, the number of elderly people who have been financially taken advantage of from an industry that preys on the “weak” is at an all-time high. This is one situation that happens far too often when the elderly parent is living in-home. Make sure your loved ones are aware of financial scams and advise them to never make any financial decisions without your input. Write a note next to the telephone to help them remember this.

6- Make your own retirement plan

Will you be able to support yourself at the time of your own retirement? How will your future be affected by taking care of your own parent? Look at the proper steps to avoid finding yourself in a financial bind when it comes time for you to retire.

With more Americans living well beyond their 70s, more adult children are now left in a position where they have to be caregivers for their aging parents. If you find yourself in the caregiving situation make sure you have a plan, which should include each of the tips mentioned above. There are no rules when it comes to caring for an elderly parent, and even though love should conquer all, having a game plan financially and emotionally is always a wise decision.

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