9 Tips For Caring For Aging Parents

4. Understand the costs of keeping your parent in their home. Most people want to grow older in their own home, surrounded by possessions and memories. How much will such “aging in place” cost, and can you find help? It may be time to take a detailed look at in-home and institutional care costs.

5. Consider professional help. We hear it all the time, “nobody can take care of my family like family”. But there are some trained professionals with a long history of caring for others that can help ease the burden. If your parent’s needs are extensive and challenging, consider hiring a geriatric-care manager who can put together a care plan for you, and can often identify community resources to reduce your own expenses and time. Be sure to research their rating and references. The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers can explain professional standards and services, and also has a locator to help you find a professional nearby.

6. Watch out for financial scams. Financial abuse of the elderly has, sadly, become a growth industry during the nation’s tough economic times. Make sure your parents are protected from making hasty, poor, and expensive financial decisions.

7. Make your health a priority too. So many times, when we take care of the people we love, we forget about our own health and our own well being. But we must remember, if we aren’t healthy, how can we take care of someone else?  Be sure to get enough sleep, take shifts if you need to, eat healthy and not just when you can. Taking care of yourself will give you the energy and strength to care for the ones you love.

8. Have “the conversation.” Make sure you understand what your parent want should you wind up with the legal power and responsibility to make decisions for them. This conversation may be uncomfortable for both of you, but it is essential. If you don’t know the ins and outs of a power of attorney, a living will, or a healthcare proxy—and few people do—find an eldercare expert or attorney to help.

9. Make your own retirement plan. How are you fixed for retirement? Will you be able to support yourself? How might your financial future be affected by taking care of a parent? Are there steps you need to take to deal with these implications?

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