Fri, 08 Dec 2023

How to Help Your Aging Parents: Issues to Resolve

09 Mar 2023, 18:14 GMT+10

As our parents age, they become more vulnerable and in need of our help. But, unfortunately, it can be difficult to know exactly how to organize that assistance, and you may feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for them, especially if you've never been in the position of caring for an aging parent before.

It's important to know that you are not alone in this experience. By taking the time to understand the challenges your aging parents face and proactively addressing the issues that may arise, you can ensure that your parents are supported and safe in their later years.

Here, in this article, we'll explore 13 of the most important issues that need to be resolved to provide the best possible care for your parents.

1) Finances

Managing finances for aging parents is a challenging task. Ensure that their income and assets are protected and well-managed and that they can access the benefits they are entitled to.

You can help your parents with their finances by setting up a power of attorney, creating a revocable living trust, looking into social security benefits, applying for Medicare and Medicaid, and managing their investments.

Communicate clearly with them and research any legal documents or paperwork required to keep them financially safe.

2) Housing

Having a safe, comfortable place to live is a key priority for your aging parents. You want to buy or rent a house or apartment for them, find an assisted living facility or even home care services.

Consider their current living situation and budget, and explore options that fit both. Make sure to look into the availability of local programs and benefits to help with expenses.

It's also important to discuss any potential modifications they may need to remain independent and safe, such as handrails, ramps, or additional lighting.

3) Transportation

As our parents age, it can become more difficult to get around. Consider the transportation options available in your area and help your parents find one that works best for them.

If they don't drive, look into public transit, ride-sharing services, or private car services. Also, see if there are volunteer organizations or transportation services that offer rides to medical appointments and errands. Ensure your parents can access the service by downloading an app or calling a phone number. Above all else, ensure they can stay safe and independent while traveling.

4) Healthcare

For elderly parents, staying on top of their healthcare issues is paramount. This is why they need to have access to a primary care physician, specialist(s), and quality healthcare facilities. Additionally, check their insurance to see if it's up-to-date and get familiar with their coverage details.

Set up a yearly checkup for your parents, including a vision and hearing test, and discuss any lifestyle changes you may have noticed. Lastly, stock up on emergency medical supplies, such as medical alert systems or personal alarms in an emergency.

5) Healthcare Proxy

Ensuring your aging parents are cared for is one of the most important things you can do. To help ensure their wishes are respected, it's essential to have a healthcare proxy.

A health care proxy enables you to appoint an individual to make decisions regarding health care on your parents' behalf if they cannot make these decisions themselves. The individual should be someone you trust and who shares your parents' values and beliefs.

Be sure to talk to your parents about who they want as their healthcare proxy before making any decisions. It's also important to have a backup healthcare proxy in case the original person cannot serve in this capacity.

6) Medications

Medication intake may increase with age. Therefore, keeping track of all the medications your aging parent is taking is important. In addition, medications should be properly stored and your parents should understand what each one is for and if there are any possible side effects.

It's also important to review any new medications with your parents' doctor to ensure they are appropriate for their condition. Keeping a list of medications can help to organize the process and be shared with healthcare professionals if needed.

7) Nutrition

A healthy diet for seniors normally includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. It's necessary for them to get enough vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin D, and folate.

If your parents have difficulty preparing meals for themselves, consider making or bringing them meals or arranging for them to receive meals from a meal delivery service. If your parents need help shopping, look into services like grocery delivery or home delivery from local stores.

Finally, keep an eye out for any changes in your parents' eating habits. Rapid weight loss or gain can indicate underlying health issues that a professional must address.

8) Safety

When it comes to the safety of your aging parents, there are many things to consider. First, the home should be a safe place for your parents, so check for hazards such as loose carpeting, electrical cords, uneven walking surfaces, and rugs that can trip them up.

Consider installing grab bars in bathrooms and other places around the house. Additionally, consider getting a medical alert system in case of a fall or other emergency. Finally, help your parents stay active by engaging in appropriate physical activities for their age and abilities.

9) Their Activities and Interests

Your aging parents may need help maintaining the activities and interests that keep them mentally and physically active. Identify activities your parents used to enjoy and help them find ways to stay engaged. Talk to them about interesting things and find ways to keep them involved.

If they can no longer participate in certain activities, look for alternatives that give them a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Whether it's helping them find a book club or signing them up for an online cooking class, helping your parents stay connected to the things they love can make a huge difference in their quality of life.

10) Medicare

Medicare is a federal health insurance program that provides coverage to adults over 65 and people under 65 with certain disabilities. Therefore, aging parents need to understand their coverage and have all the necessary forms filled out.

It's also important for adult children to familiarize themselves with the Medicare system in case they ever need to take on responsibility for their parent's coverage. Ensure you understand your parents' eligibility, how much coverage they receive, and any limits or restrictions on the coverage.

11) Medicaid

Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health care coverage for low-income individuals and families. It's a lifeline for many elderly parents who need help with medical costs but don't have enough resources to pay for them.

To qualify, your parent must meet certain income and asset requirements, which vary from state to state. Once enrolled, they will receive coverage for a range of services, including doctor visits, prescription drugs, hospital stays, nursing home care, and more. You can also use Medicaid for home health aides and other long-term care services.

12) Caregivers

When it comes to helping your aging parents, one of the most important decisions is determining who will be responsible for providing care. If your parents need help with daily tasks, consider hiring a caregiver.

A professional caregiver can provide companionship, help with meals and medication reminders, light housekeeping, and assistance with transportation.

Consider researching to find the right caregiver for your parents. Ask family and friends for referrals or compare different home care agencies online. Then, when you find one, look them up on Leadar to verify their portfolio.

It's also important to discuss the expectations and requirements of the position with your parents, so they are comfortable with the arrangement.

13) Guardianship

If your parent cannot make decisions, consider obtaining guardianship. This is when a court appoints someone responsible for their health, financial, and personal decisions.

It's important to note that the court must approve guardianship and requires a lot of paperwork. You must prove that your parent cannot make decisions for themselves and that you are the best person for the job. You will also need to report how things are going to court regularly.

Wrapping Up

Helping your aging parents can be a challenging and sometimes stressful task. However, there are several issues you can resolve to ensure they are taken care of both now and in the future.

Understanding the documents and policies involved can provide a lifetime of comfort for your aging parents and peace of mind for you.

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