Summer is over and the holiday season is in full force. Thanksgiving is just a few days away and Christmas will be here before you know it. As the latest wave of Covid-19 continues to recede, in-person gatherings seem increasingly likely and for many, this brings mixed emotions. On the one hand, getting the whole family together is a rare and priceless event; on the other, having everyone in the same room raises the question of whether to address any number of delicate family issues. Caring for aging parents is one such issue that nearly every family will need to face at some point and it helps to be ready for when the time comes. Not only is this because the issues that can come up are many, but also because meeting long-term care needs requires advanced planning. Below are five key ways you can ensure you are prepared.
Caring for Aging Loved Ones in 5 Steps
1. Assess (and Reassess) Needs
The hardest part of caring for aging parents or loved ones is determining what requires doing. Often, just the thought is overwhelming as issues seem to multiply and grow more complex. Establishing different categories of needs helps with organization and, if relevant, delegation. Important areas to think about include:
I. Family support: Who is available to help and in what capacity?
II. Medical needs: What issues exist and how can they be managed? What future risks are of concern? Ensure cognitive health figures in your assessment.
III. Mobility: Do your loved ones require mobility assistance either in the home or out? What measures can be taken to best maintain their autonomy while meeting their needs?
IV. Meals and upkeep: Is help required with grocery shopping or meal prep? Are maintenance issues building up? Does home safety need review? Has personal hygiene become an issue?
V. Social contact: Are your parents or loved ones receiving the social contact needed to stay happy and healthy?
2. Consider Your Own Abilities
As you develop a running list of your aging loved one’s needs, it is also important to assess your own ability to meet them. Rarely can a child attend to all that requires doing and this is nothing to feel guilty about. Indeed, enlisting help where you can’t provide it is the responsible course of action. As you think about where you can and can’t assist, ask the following.
I. Am I healthy enough to help?
II. Am I close enough to be reliably present?
III. Does our relationship allow for my regular interventions?
IV. Do I know how to provide care or am I willing to learn?
3. Start a Conversation
Just as important as asking yourself (and honestly answering) the above questions is bringing similar questions to your aging loved ones. While you may be feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility of caretaking, they may be feeling overwhelmed by fear of losing their autonomy. This is why it is crucial that providing for their well-being take the form of a conversation where everyone involved has space for input.
4. Review Finances
Long-term care is never free and costs can mount as needs increase. From the outset, it is important to gain a complete picture of current costs and a realistic estimate of possible future expenses. Your loved one’s financial position needs to be viewed in light of these numbers and together you need to determine whether financial help will be needed to preserve their estate while ensuring their well-being.
Here, an experienced estate planning attorney is an invaluable resource. They can both assist with drafting an estate plan that can address a myriad of issues that arise as your loved ones age.
To learn more about ensuring the continued well-being of an aging loved and how strategic estate planning can help, do not hesitate to reach out to the Hailey-Petty Law Firm either by calling (512) 910-8977 in Austin, (210) 570-2458 in San Antonio or by using the contact form on our website.