By Jessica L. Estes
Currently, it is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population provides care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member and spends, on average, twenty hours per week providing that care. Caring for your aging parents is not an easy task. Not only can it be overwhelming, but it may cause stress in your life which can manifest itself in various ways, including illness, depression and/or anxiety, or strained family relationships. There are things you can do, though, to make the job less stressful.
First, it is important to know your parent’s personal wants and needs. Satisfying those requirements will depend largely on the type of long-term care your parent is likely to require. For most, living independently for as long as possible is ideal. Usually, this requires that the parent stay healthy both physically and mentally, so the more physical and social activities your parent participates in, the more likely they are to maintain their health and independence.
Second, you and your parent should discuss where the caregiving is going to take place. Will your parent be moving, or will you travel to your parent? Any decision in this regard will have an impact on your immediate family (i.e. your spouse and/or children) so they should be included in that part of the discussion. To determine the best housing option for your parent, you will need to compare the costs of any modifications to the home as well as the cost of assistive devices needed to continue to reside in their home, with the costs of an assisted living or nursing facility. Also, be sure to check if there are any in-home or community services available to assist with transportation, shopping, housekeeping or yard-work and their respective costs.
Next, there should be a discussion about end-of-life care. Make sure your parent has a health care power of attorney and an advance directive or living will. Also, if your parent has any final disposition instructions for their body after their death, they should be included in these documents as well.
Finally, what is your parent’s financial situation? Do they have sufficient funds to pay for their long-term care? If not, what programs are available to pay for that type of care? Generally, Medicaid is the only program available to pay for long-term care, but it is a needs-based program so your parent will have to meet the eligibility requirements. You should make sure your parent has a durable financial power of attorney that names an agent to manage their finances if they become incapacitated or incompetent. That agent also should be made aware of what income and assets your parent has and where the assets are located.
Organizing the caregiving duties into the above four manageable categories: personal, housing, medical and financial, will keep you calm and able to focus on specific tasks rather than feeling overwhelmed by everything all at once. Call ERA Law Group, LLC today at (410) 919-1790 and ask how we can help!