Anyone with aging parents knows that you should always expect the unexpected. It’s pretty inevitable that we’ll face changes and health issues as we get older. However, knowing that, we can all be better prepared to face those “unexpected” circumstances. Our elder care experts provide their tips for helping your aging parents prepare for any situation:
Help your aging parents be proactive and organized with their health.
When any medical situation comes up, you need to know your medical history, list of diagnoses and medications, treating physicians and more. To be prepared, your aging parents should have this information organized and accessible. It is so easy nowadays to securely store the information online, and you can help your parents do this. Our care managers often assist clients with organizing their “health file” and pulling together medical records. Check out one example of how a care manager can help when it comes to one common situation, surgery.
Most health issues exist long before symptoms or a crisis. For this reason, Medicare and other insurers pay for preventative care. Your parents will be better prepared if they stay on top of screenings, checkups and health management. Preventative care leads to better long-term health with more effective treatment options. Work with a health advocate to be sure your aging parents are getting the most out of their healthcare.
Be sure the home is prepared to age with your parents.
Your parents likely wish to stay in their home “as long as they can”. But, can they? The home itself may be the number one factor in that answer. If your Mom had surgery, could she return home and easily navigate caring for herself there? Is the home full of trip and safety hazards?
Start by taking a look at our free Room By Room Home Safety Checklist. Consider getting a complete home evaluation with personalized recommendations, if your parents want to age at home.
Help your aging parents get their financial and legal “ducks in a row”.
All aging parents (really, all adults) need legal decision making and advanced care planning documents. Make sure your parents have (and have updated) a durable power of attorney, healthcare surrogate/medical POA and living will. They may also need a DNR in certain circumstances. When you get that dreaded middle of the night phone call, you need to have the legal documentation to act.
Your aging parents should also review their estate plan with their attorney and consider making funeral plans. Dealing with death and grief is hard enough without logistical nightmares.
Along with legal planning, your aging parents should consider financial planning an essential ongoing process. Hopefully, they started this early in life as they prepared for retirement. But, financial needs change over time. Make sure your parents’ plans have adjusted accordingly. And, make sure you know where to find key information and how to get in touch with their advisors. Simplifying financial management makes sense as your parents get older. But, doing what seems convenient may not always be smartest. So, talk to professionals to get advice.
Talk about your aging parents’ wishes and expectations.
Beyond the logistical steps of preparing, take time to have some conversations. Maybe Dad appointed you as his healthcare surrogate. But, do you know what he wants? Are your views on end of life care the same as how he feels at 85-years-old?
The only times we’ve addressed these issues is often with passing comments or even jokes. But, we need to take the time to share and listen. And, we need to be open about what is realistic and not.
Additionally, we need to understand what to expect. For example, some aging parents may comment about not wanting to ever go to a nursing home. They may joke “I’ll only leave my house in a casket.” We need to address these statements head-on with a dose of reality. What is the fear or concern behind these statements? And, what have your aging parents done to plan accordingly? In other words, have they made sure their home will let them age in place? Do they have funds to hire help at home if needed? Blanket statements don’t mean much other than a pile of guilt if they aren’t backed up with action.
As a family, we need to know what type of help might be needed, what’s available, what things cost, etc. And, we should be sure we aren’t making incorrect assumptions about what roles family members will take on or what resources our parents have.
Be prepared, have a plan.
Meet with an aging wisely care manager for help getting organized, finding resources, discussing wishes and putting a plan into place to relieve your worries.
Know who to call when a situation happens.
You can’t avoid the inevitable challenges that come with aging. And, you can’t have every answer for every situation. But, you can know who to call when things do happen. By taking preventative steps, you build a support network. You start to learn about the help available in your aging parents’ local area. Knowing where to turn means you will be prepared to deal with any situation.
You can even hire a care manager for crisis intervention services, meaning you and your aging parents will have an expert on call 24/7. Then, you’ll never have to deal with any situation alone.
Our Tampa Bay aging wisely team is only a phone call away at 727-447-5845 or 813-333-5020.