3 Considerations When Your Aging Parents Become Your Responsibility
Aging is part of life. Yet it’s hard for adult children to acknowledge that their parents are getting older and less able to care for themselves. It’s not a thought many want to entertain; seeing a loved one become dependent on you can trigger a lot of emotions. However, not planning or thinking through the possibilities won’t ease the forthcoming facts of life.
Whether you’re in the midst of dealing with these challenges or looking ahead to the future, keep reading. This article will discuss considerations you’ll have to keep in mind as you assume responsibility for your parents’ needs.
1. Prioritizing Their Well-Being
First and foremost, you must make your parents’ overall well-being the top priority. This includes their physical, mental, and emotional health.
From a physical standpoint, you’ll want to ensure they are comfortable moving around their space to access what they require. If either parent is using a device such as a walker or wheelchair, their space must be designed in a way to best accompany them. Installing ramps, adding handlebars in the bathtub, and removing rugs are some ways to make their residence safer.
Mentally and emotionally, you want your parents to stay cognitively fit. Word games, puzzles, and other mental forms of stimulation can help deter rapid memory loss. Picking up a new hobby such as knitting or drawing can also flex cognitive muscles. Caring for a pet can address their emotional needs, especially if they are feeling lonely. Of course, make sure they’re well enough to assume the responsibilities of pet care so it doesn’t feel like another burden to manage.
As your parents continue to age, they may have to transition to long-term care. You could hire an in-home caregiver, or you may need to move your parents to a nursing home. In the latter case, you’ll have to do your research about the best nursing homes in the desired area. Abuse and neglect are, regrettably, not unheard of in these specialized institutions. If you suspect your parents are in harm’s way, hire a nursing home abuse lawyer to help conduct an investigation and file a claim.
2. Encouraging Connection
Social connection is one of the joys of life. It can serve to reduce depression and anxiety and increase an individual’s overall morale and outlook on life. To keep up your parents’ spirits, you want to be sure they have the ability to connect with others. The types of connections will vary depending on their living situation.
If your parents are living alone, suggest a daily or weekly visit or phone chat with one of their friends. Stop by frequently if you live nearby, or ask a neighbor or friend to check in on your parents. At the very least, phone or video call them regularly to see how they are doing and how their day is going.
One of the perks of a nursing home is the accessibility of other residents similar in age to your parents. Many nursing homes facilitate social activities, such as card games, dance classes, music performances, and more. If your parents are living at a nursing home, encourage them to partake in these activities. Ask the staff to bring your parents to these sessions if they are hesitant to leave their individual rooms. Soon enough, they’ll be more willing to join in on the fun on their own.
3. Assuming Financial Responsibilities
Lastly, one of your main responsibilities as your parents’ primary support is assuming their financial responsibilities. This can be one of the most challenging tasks, but the longer you wait to get involved, the harder it can be. To start, you’ll need to have your parents grant you a financial power of attorney. Having this power simply means you are able to make monetary decisions on behalf of your parents without asking them for permission.
Once you’ve been given this power, you’ll be able to see where your parents’ finances stand. If they are working with a financial advisor, meet with that individual to discuss their situation. They can help you better understand what types of investments your parents have and suggest next steps now that you’re in charge. If your parents didn’t have a financial advisor, sit down and account for all of their assets, debts, and monthly obligations. This can be a major project to tackle, so give yourself plenty of time.
Having a grasp of their financial situation will allow you to make the best decisions for them. For instance, you may decide that their incoming pension payments will go straight toward their caregiver’s pay. Or you may see that they have so much in savings that investing in some conservative yet higher-yielding assets makes the most sense.
If you have siblings, be sure to include them in any financial decisions or, at the very least, let them know your plans. Money can be the root cause of friction between family members, so explaining your decisions upfront can help prevent discord.
While assuming responsibility for your parents’ physical, emotional, and financial needs may not be your ideal situation, it can be a rewarding experience. Treasure the moments that you have with your parents, recognizing that the time you are able to spend together is finite.
If you’re feeling distraught and at a loss, remember that you’re not alone. Many adult children find themselves in this position just like you. If you need help, seek out support groups and other resources that are available to assist.