General Considerations When Caring for Elderly Parents

by brendon on July 3, 2014

Kansas City and Overland Park investors should implement financial plans and investment strategies that satisfy the many needs of specific life events. Caring for elderly parents is a LIFE TRANSITION that requires a financial strategy.  The Home Run Living process is a collaborative process that creates customized life-long financial strategies for up to 63 life-transitions.

Below is a list of general considerations before considering a financial strategy associated with this LIFE TRANSITION.

1. Introduction (-)
For the first time in history, large numbers of American families are coping with the care and support of an aging parent. During the last century, increases in the standard of living and advances in medical technology have led to a drastic rise in the number of senior adults:

• The older population (65+) numbered 40.4 million in 2010, an increase of 5.4 million or 15.3% since 2000
• The number of Americans aged 45-64 who will reach 65 over the next two decades–increased by 31% during this decade
• Over one in every eight, or 13.1% of the population is an older American
• The older population will burgeon between the years 2010 and 2030 when the “baby boom” generation reached age 65

An increasing number of families will find that aging parents are their top concern. Most families worry about their parents’ finances and living arrangements. Sometimes a retirement pension and Social Security benefits do not cover all their living costs. In addition, they may not be able to keep track of their investments and expenses. At the same time, there may be questions about their ability to care for themselves and live independently.

For others, the primary issues are physical and mental health. As we age we become susceptible to more diseases and are often plagued by serious health problems. Common age-related physical health issues include hearing loss, weakening vision, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and osteoporosis. There are also critical mental disorders that commonly afflict the elderly. We often hear of Alzheimer’s, senile dementia, and depression. Each of these requires a specific set of treatments and preventative measures. Many times these become the responsibility of the family.

If you happen to be one of these families, there are many resources out there to help. Check out the support networks in your community and online. The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the Administration on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a nationwide service that connects older Americans and their caregivers with information on senior services. Their website is http://eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx.

Turn your concerns and anxieties into support and love as you work to provide your parent with valuable care.

2. Doctors (-)
If you are concerned with the health of an aging parent, the first thing you should do is to talk with a medical professional. Doctors and nurses can diagnose problems in the early stages and offer treatments if needed. They can also sit down with you and explain your parent’s specific needs.
3. Familiarizing yourself with your parents’ needs (-)
If your parent has a specific problem such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease, or other problems that affect the elderly, be sure to research the condition. There are a variety of resources available on the Internet and in the bookstore. Understanding your parent’s needs will help alleviate your anxiety and guide you in providing care.

4. Organizations that can help (-)
There are a number of organizations created for helping the elderly and their families. These include the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP), the National Council on the Aging, and the National Senior Citizens Law Center. Another helpful site is Eldercare, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging. Their link is: http://eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx

Many communities have Senior Centers where you can go to familiarize yourself with the needs of senior citizens and the resources available in your community. All of these organizations can provide you with helpful hints on caring for an elderly parent in both a loving and economical way.

5. Communicating with your parent (-)
Talk to your parent about your concern. Ask if there is anything you can do to help them overcome the challenges of aging. Your parent may just be looking for someone to voice concerns to or may need someone’s advice. Take into consideration your parent’s needs and desires. Encouraging communication is an important step in laying groundwork for future aid.

6. Communicating with others (-)
If you have become concerned about a parent’s wellbeing, you are probably not alone. Talk to other family members, friends, and neighbors. They might be able to alleviate your concerns or provide helpful insights. Remember, the larger your resource network, the better care you can provide.

7. Support for you (-)
Realizing that your parent may be going through a difficult time can be an emotionally stressful situation for you to handle. Talk to other members of your family and other people you know who have gone through the same thing. Securing emotional support for yourself will help you deal with the stress and concerns you might have. As always, seek professional help or the assistance of support groups if needed.

8. Personnel needs (-)
Many times, elderly parents need extra help, such as housecleaning or grocery shopping. If you are not able to provide the assistance yourself, think about hiring someone who can. Think about local cleaning agencies or programs such as Meals-on-Wheels offered in your community. As your parent gets older or if he/she is suffering from an illness, you may consider hiring professional medical help and home care services.

9. Long-term care options (-)
When a parent is no longer able to care for himself or herself at home, you may need to look for some type of long-term care facility. There are many options available ranging from retirement communities to nursing homes. Choosing which one is right for you and your parent can be a difficult decision. Be conscious of your parent’s needs, the location of the facility, the caregiver’s reputation, and your budget. Consider a variety of options before you commit to one.

10. Legal documents (-)
Talk to your parents about writing out legal documents such as wills and healthcare directives. Wills are used in the case of death, whereas healthcare directives are legal documents to communicate your parents’ wishes for healthcare in the event that they cannot communicate. Writing such a directive will help them keep control of their lives and what happens to them in case of an emergency. You and other family members should know the location of such documents. Taking care of these arrangements and documentation in advance can alleviate stress for everyone.

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