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Monday, April 22, 2024

5 Steps to Take When You Can No Longer Care for Elderly Parents on Your Own

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Getting old is a natural part of life. Anyone who lives long enough is guaranteed to go through the changes associated with aging. Some of these may include a decline in mental and/or physical capabilities. When you notice these types of changes happening in your mom and dad, it can be difficult. You may find that your parents are no longer able to care for themselves and need outside assistance.

Ideally, you and your siblings — if you have any — will be able to help your parents live an enjoyable life for as long as possible. But providing round-the-clock care for any person is a huge responsibility. It may become impossible to offer the level of care your parents require while attending to your own responsibilities. Here are five steps you can take to ensure your parents’ needs are met when you can no longer do so on your own. 

1. Research Nursing Homes

Nursing homes can provide a range of personal care and health services that you may no longer be able to manage yourself. These include three nutritious meals a day, full-time supervision, and assistance with everyday activities. It’s important to research nursing homes so you can find one that offers the types of care your elderly parents need. Some facilities provide only minor assisted living services such as housekeeping. Others provide advanced services such as memory care and skilled nursing.

When researching nursing homes, visit each facility in person. Talk to the staff and pay attention to how the residents look and act. If the residents appear dirty, sad, malnourished, or injured, take note. You don’t want to put your parents in a situation that might eventually require the services of nursing home abuse lawyers. Make sure the residents in the facility you choose are well cared for and the environment is clean and cheerful.

2. Arrange Home Healthcare

Home healthcare may be appropriate if your elderly parents want to live in their own home as long as possible. There are many different options for in-home healthcare services. If your parents only need help with daily tasks like cleaning and cooking, a personal care attendant may be sufficient. But if your parents have medical conditions or need assistance bathing, a certified nursing assistant may be required.

While in-home care is nice to arrange if it works for your situation, it may not always be the best option. Finding someone who’s a good match for your parents’ personalities and healthcare needs might be challenging. This route may also be inadequate if your parents have Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments. Carefully assess your parents’ daily needs when determining whether in-home care is the right solution.

3. Get Their Finances in Order

When your parents can no longer manage their finances, it’s time to step in. This may be difficult if your parents don’t want to admit their limitations. Be gentle and take a sensitive and gradual approach to assuming management of their financial affairs. For example, you might start by offering to help them pay their monthly bills or organize their financial documents. Including them in the process will help them feel more comfortable with the transition. 

When your parents are ready to fully hand over their financial responsibilities to you, consider getting a financial power of attorney. This is a document that grants you legal authority to make financial decisions on your parents’ behalf. There are other types of power of attorney documents you may also want to consider. They can authorize you to make medical or general decisions for your parents when they are unable to.

4. Look Into Possible Coverage Plans

Long-term care can be expensive, placing an excessive financial burden on the shoulders of young families. Fortunately, there are programs that can help cover certain healthcare-related costs. For example, some states offer a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). This is a combined Medicaid and Medicare program covering social service, medical, and long-term care costs. It allows qualifying individuals to live at home while receiving coordinated care.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program that may pay for some of your elderly parents’ healthcare costs. Coverage is for people aged 65 and older, as well as younger individuals with qualifying disabilities. The program covers services such as hospice care, doctor visits, and some home healthcare. For more information about state and federal benefit programs for the elderly, refer to the free BenefitsCheckUp tool offered by the National Council on Aging.

5. Smooth Your Parents’ Transition

When the time comes to move your parents to a nursing home, there are things you can do to make the transition less disruptive. Begin by communicating clearly with your parents about what’s happening. If possible, give them time to mentally prepare for the move instead of doing it suddenly. Listen to any concerns they may have and be sensitive to their feelings. Talk to them about the benefits a nursing home can offer, such as 24/7 care and opportunities to interact with their peers.

When your parents move into a new facility, help them decorate their room with familiar pictures and other items. Encourage them to participate in activities and meet their neighbors. Visit frequently, but don’t take them out until they are adjusted to their new home and routine. Gently facilitating the transition can make the process less stressful for your parents.

It’s hard to admit when you’re no longer able to care for your mom and dad. But it’s far better to ensure they receive the care they need than to keep trying to handle things you simply can’t. By taking the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure your parents’ needs are met throughout their golden years.

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