A parent’s gradual health decline, a sudden health emergency or new health issues, a new diagnosis or treatment plan, and the list goes on. The realization that it’s time for adult children to step in and get their parents help may hit each family at different stages for different reasons.
Before fully stepping into this new position as a family caregiver, it’s important to thoroughly assess the situation, open a dialogue with your parents and support team, and set your personal boundaries.
It’s important to understand that there are many different facets to being a caregiver that most people don’t realize and often the responsibilities ebb and flow over time. Understanding with what a parent needs help, the assistance you can offer, and establishing an action plan to set this into motion is crucial to transitioning into this chapter successfully.
Assess Your Parent’s Needs
Caring for a parent can feel overwhelming because you’re not sure exactly what needs to be done. To gain some clarity, take a step back to understand exactly how much assistance your parent requires with everyday life.
Think about 8 key areas:
- Family support
- Home safety
- Medical needs
- Cognitive health
- Personal hygiene
- Meal preparation
- Social interaction
Consider how much support are they already getting in each category and how much help they realistically need to stay safe and healthy? Write everything down in a caregiving notebook so you can keep track of their needs and figure out which services are needed.
For example, let’s say your mom is managing high cholesterol and heart disease, has no other family nearby, is fairly isolated in a rural area, and finds it difficult to prepare meals and you live across the country. She’ll need help with medication management, transportation, and healthy meal preparation.
To provide the support she needs, you might hire a driver for transport to medical appointments and errands, set up grocery or meal deliveries, and hire an in-home caregiver to monitor her medications and overall wellbeing.
Assess Your Needs and Ability to be a Caregiver
Before you assume responsibility for providing all of the care for your parent’s needs by yourself, stop and take an honest look at your own situation and abilities. Really take the time to consider what is feasible for you, establish limitations, identify boundaries and set clear expectations with all involved prior to committing to a new role.
- Does your health allow you to physically care for someone?
- Do you live close enough to visit as often as needed?
- Would you want to live with them, either in their house or yours?
- Do you have the kind of relationship that allows you to spend a lot of time together without creating a lot of negative feelings on either side?
- Do you have the personality to provide the type of care they need?
- Are you willing to learn how to provide that care?
Truly understand that we all want our parents to be safe and healthy. And, it’s not selfish or heartless if after fully reviewing your personal situation, you discover you’re not the best person to personally provide that care. Simply by being honest, you’re helping your parent. That honesty can help guide the whole care Team down the right path to find quality providers of the necessary current and future care.
Understand The Financial Situation
Caring for an aging parent will cost money. It’s a good strategy to estimate future costs so you’ll be prepared. Think about the medical care they’re likely to need, the cost of their potential living situation (like assisted living vs moving in with you), and everyday living costs like food, caregiving supplies, home safety modifications and more. Once you have an idea of their financial position, you’ll know if they’ll be able to afford the care they need or if they’ll need financial help.
An elder law attorney can help you decide if your parent should apply for Medicaid, and assist in setting up Powers of Attorney to make sure the authority is given to take on some of the responsibilities as their as Attorney-In-Fact if dealing with their finances or has their Agent in a Health Care Power of Attorney should they be unable to make medical decisions for themselves.
Choosing the Right Elder Law Attorney
If your loved one has an accident or other emergency, you need to have a plan in place so you can get there on short notice. Set up a support system of people who can step in for you while you’re gone, whether it’s helping with the kids, the pets or your job. Keep a list of their contact information and agreed-upon roles. You might want to keep a travel bag packed with toiletries and essential clothing, so you don’t have to stop and think about what to bring with you.
Distance is a challenge when caring for elderly parents. But it can be made more manageable with planning and forethought. With some strategic planning and a team effort, you can make sure your loved one is getting the assistance they need and that help is available should it be required, as quickly as possible.
Choosing the Right Elder Law Attorney
Morneau Law can help you and your family navigate what feels like a complex system to help you set long or short term goals to ensure you and your loved ones have the proper care in place and wishes known as your parents age and their needs change. Depending on your parent’s goal, our Attorneys can help you create a plan that meets those goals, whether it be to protect the family home, assign alternative approved users to bank accounts, and other assets or anything in between. Our experience allows us to successfully advise clients on what their options are in terms of how they achieve their goals, whether those are maintaining independence and dignity, preserving funds for children and grandchildren, or staying home rather than moving to assisted living or a nursing home.
Contact Morneau Law
Let the Team of Attorneys at Morneau Law assist you with Medicaid planning, estate planning and elder law. Contact us today to discuss your family’s needs and let us assist you with a plan that works for everyone.