Taking Care of Elderly Parents – Are You Prepared?

Are you prepared to take care of your elderly parents like they took care of you?

As children and young adults, we relied on our parents to teach us, guide us, feed us and shelter us.

They were there we when fell down and scrapped our knee, and were there when the car broke down in the rain and they came out to help us get it going again or get us back home safe.

Then we became adults. We have careers, spouses, kids, pets; life of our own took center stage. Our parents were still there for us but we didn’t need them but rather provided them with quick visits, calls and holiday dinners.

Have you considered and planned for when your parents need you as you needed them during your childhood and young adult years? Well now is the time to make that plan.

They Fear Losing Their Independence

As parents age, the one thing that is very different from them than when you were young and needed them is that, as much as they love you, and may need you more, they fear needing you. They fear losing their independence.  Many times, we as adult children attempt to take over the “parent” role, and we start parenting our parents. Many, if not most parents, will not react to this very well.  It is so important to let your parents know that you are there for them, will help them, but as long as they are able both mentally and physically able to make their own decisions and get to places on their own……let them. Care for them, don’t parent them.

Taking Care Of Elderly Parents

With my own parents, in their late 80s and early 90s, praise God they are physically and mentally able to get around locally, but both them and I agreed am there for them if they need to get out on a major highway to get to the doctor. The local roads are fine, but with traffic in our area, the highways are too fast and too crowded for them to be driving on.  The key is we all agreed on this point. I didn’t tell them not to drive on the highway. I said instead, how about if I take you to the doctor.

They Are Our Parents, Not Our Kids

Guide them; do not tell them what to do. Offer suggestions rather than demands. Let them realize they may need more help rather than you telling them they need help. Believe it or not, most will reach out to you as long as they feel it is safe to do so and your plan is not to remove them from their house but rather, allow them to be as independent as possible for as long as possible.

Make A Plan

With that said, now is the time to start getting an idea of what type of insurance they have, for example, chances are they are on Medicare, but do they have a supplement? Do they have Veterans benefits?

Now is the time to start having discussions to ensure that when they go to a doctor they put you on their medical form so that the doctor has permission to discuss their medical care with you, without this, due to HIPPA regulations, the doctor will not be able to tell you anything about their conditions, medications, or treatments.

Now is the time to have those difficult conversations such as if they have a living will. Ask them about their wishes for funeral arrangements and they have made any arrangements already? Do they have a will?

Yes, these are all very difficult conversations to have, but it is important to have them now when they are healthy, and have mental clarity.  For some this may be an easy process. For many it will be a very difficult conversation to have and it may require many attempts over many months or even years before your parents realize you are there to help but not take independence.

Prepare For The Unexpected

So what if you have already had all these above things, your parents are able to live at home, they have a will, living will, HIPPAs are all set at the doctors. Do you have a plan if something happens like if one falls and breaks something? Or if one has a stoke or heart attack?

Have you talked to your siblings as to who could take care of Mom or Dad in a case where their stay at rehab ends and insurance no longer will pay?

Have you researched extended living options and the costs of such options vs trying as best you can to keep Mom and/or Dad at home as long as possible?

Taking Care Of You

What about care for you, the caregiver? Have you looked into what you will do when you need a break from taking care of your parents? My cousin and his wife are the primary care givers of her parents. They try to get away every quarter, but each time they are away, something happens and one of the parents requires extended medical care her sibling is not prepared to handle it so she has to set things up remotely until she is able to get back home.

Make You Think

This post isn’t about giving you the answers to these questions, but rather to get you to start thinking about these things and start building a plan. After all, you are visiting this site because you are the type of person that likes to be prepared.  We tend to think our parents will always be healthy and there for us because they always have been. Well, time has past and they are getting older, there will be a time, and that time can happen suddenly, when one of your parents will need you suddenly and your life will change.

Plan for it now!

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