As a child, you might think that your parents will always be strong enough to take care of you. But there will come a moment when you’ll realize that they’re getting older. That’s the time you need to understand that it’s your turn to take care of them and think about their future.
Making a plan for your aging parents comes with a lot of complex personal and legal decisions. As much as possible, these decisions should be made as a family. Both your parents and siblings should be involved in the conversation. Also, remember that preparation is still necessary even if your parents are both in good health. Read on to learn more about how you can plan for your parent’s future.
1. Know their needs and wants
Before taking any steps, it’s crucial to first understand what your parents truly want. It can be confusing and overwhelming to take care of your parents, but remember that their preferences should be of top priority. You can start by finding out how much help they need. The eight key areas to plan for are family support, medical needs, home safety, social interaction, meal preparation, mobility, cognitive health, and personal hygiene. You can use a caregiving notebook to keep track of what services your parents need to stay healthy and safe.
On top of that, discuss with your parents the housing option they prepare. If you’ve decided to move them into your house, be sure to consult a professional caregiver for care coaching. If your parents are fine with an in-home caregiver, find a reputable home care company that offers 24-hour care or respite care.
2. Prepare all the documents
The next step is to acquire and gather the documents necessary for any financial and legal affairs. For this, you’ll need a durable power of attorney (POA), so you can be properly appointed to make fiscal or medical decisions for your aging parents or incapacitated relative. While it’s not essential to hire a lawyer when drafting healthcare power of attorney (HSCP), you might need one for creating a financial POA. It’s highly recommended hiring an experienced elder-law attorney to prevent any issues when planning for your parents’ needs.
Furthermore, they can also help you plan for any public benefits that your aging parents are eligible for. Legal and medical planning comes with tons of paperwork. By hiring an elder care attorney, you can make the right arrangements and decisions. Other necessary documents you need to collect are birth certificates, social security cards, power of attorney, citizenship papers, insurance policies, deeds to property, pension benefits, and living will.
3. Be aware of current assets
Take note of all the assets your parents have. Start with their bank accounts, the type of the accounts, and the numbers. You should also determine if those accounts have beneficiary designations or transfer on death (TOD) designations. Make a list of the account numbers for their credit cards, as well as the related paperwork. If they own any cars, collect the titles too. If they own real estate, find the deeds and check the type of ownership. This is crucial for determining who will receive the sales proceeds or how it will be passed on upon death. Other assets to look into are retirement accounts, life insurance policies, family partnerships, and saving bonds.
4. Prepare the safety nets
Planning a support system for your aging parents is a crucial step to take regardless of how much help they require. You can start with their medical care. Communicate with their doctors and learn about your parents’ medical information. Have their doctor’s contact details on hand in case of emergencies. You can also get medical alert pendants that your parents can wear. This allows you to immediately know if your parents have an accident or medical emergency.
Other assistive devices like mobility aids and medication organizers help minimize the hassle of their daily living activities. If you and your parents decide to explore independent and safe living, consult an occupational therapist. Such professionals are trained to teach elderly patients to improve their basic motor skills and strength, which are essential for completing daily tasks like eating or dressing,
Every parent has unique personal needs and preferences, and the tips here are just standard recommendations. We highly recommend taking the time to assess and understand what your aging parents really need. When the time comes that you have to take charge of their future, stay patient and focused on the goal: keeping them healthy, safe, and happy.