As parents age, roles become reversed as their adult children become the caregivers. Sometimes, it’s just providing a quick ride to the store, the way your mother might have driven you before you had your license. Other times, you may find yourself changing the diapers of the person who once changed yours.
It may be heartening to learn, though, that in a national survey of caregivers, more than 80% said they found caregiving rewarding. That doesn’t mean it’s not difficult, particularly when you’re thrust into the role due to a crisis like a stroke or a fall in the home.
Here are some tips that may help you move past the chaos to find the reward.
1. Make a caregiving budget.
Before making a lifestyle decision with financial consequences, put together a comprehensive look at what you are spending on caregiving. Make a companion list of your parent’s resources and how they might be better used to support caregiving activities.
2. Explore free or low-cost public benefits.
Several websites can provide help in identifying and getting help with caregiving tasks. Check out the government’s eldercare locator. The National Council on Aging operates a benefits checklist service, and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging has extensive information on caregiving help, plus an online locator to a local office in your area.
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3. Learn about the new Medicare and Medicaid.
A lot has changed. Think Medicare covers nursing-home stays? It does not. Medicaid does, but only people who have exhausted most of their assets qualify for Medicaid-paid nursing home benefits.
What kind of Medicare coverage does your parent have? Do they also have a Medigap or Medicare Advantage policy? A drug plan? What are the co-pays, out-of-pocket limits, and other financial aspects of their insurance? Please be sure to do your research on Medicare and Medicaid.
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