Caring for Our Parents

By Alissa Henry

More than 42 million Americans provide family caregiving for an adult who needs help with daily activities. An additional 61.6 million provide at least some care during the year.

Are you prepared to take care of your parents?

Lori Wengerd, owner of Home Care Assistance Columbus, says that every family should have the
discussion before they need it. “Ask your parents, ‘What do you want?’ ‘What are your wishes?’
Have this discussion as early as possible. Let your parent come to the decision over time.”

Before your parents need care, preparing an advance care directive is the most important step they
can take. This directive includes: a durable power of attorney, a health care proxy, and a living will.

There are 3 situations when most adult children begin considering professional care for their parents:

  • The parent is returning from the hospital
  • The adult child realizes that one parent–or maybe both– needs more help than normal.
  • The adult child notices signs that her parent is not doing well.

It’s an intensely personal decision, but according to AARP research, at least 90% of elderly parents prefer to stay at home as long as they can.

Lori says that in-home care can be a long-term solution or something that is a stopgap. It can be a more affordable option than a nursing home depending on how much care your parent needs. If your parents can no longer safely live at home and you don’t want to move them into an adult care facility, then the home can be modified so a parent can stay there.

While aging is inevitable, planning for the costs associated with dependency in the latter phase of life doesn’t come easy to most people. Talk to your financial planner about different benefits that may be available to those needing professional care.

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