Elder parent and son having a conversation

Taking Care of your Aging Parents

It eventually happens to all of us: in some capacity or another, we find ourselves needing to help our parent’s. Some adult children are more hands on because of proximity and some adult children are long distance and therefore do more coordinating behind the scenes. Whatever your involvement may be, here are some tips to help you get the best care for your loved one while getting the help that you need to be more effective.

  • Talk with your parents

This may seem like such a basic concept but sometimes it can be the hardest part. A role reversal is very difficult to begin with, add talking about care expectations and end of life wishes, it can be uncomfortable… but totally necessary. You need to know their wishes. Do they want to remain at home as long as possible?  What are their choices for end-of-life care? Chances are, they have been thinking about these things for a long time and just needed you to ask them.

  • Include your siblings

Your siblings have every right to be a part of your parents’ care. To keep harmony, it is best to include them in the decision-making process. It will also help alleviate your stress and pressure. Sibling support, just like siblings, come in all different shapes and sizes. Realize that some will be more active than others. Even a sibling who, although may not be there to help in day-to-day care, can still be a great sounding board or supportive in other ways. Recognize when you have caregiver stress and ask for help!

  • Get help

There are local area agencies that can help you provide assistance. Councils on Aging (COAs) Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs), etc. can help with Meals on Wheels, Options Counseling, etc. Also, you can and should seek out the help of their Primary Care Physician or a Geriatric Care Manager. If you don’t know how their general health already is, you need to find out. Keep in mind that health is not limited to physical. You should be just as concerned about their emotional and mental well-being.

  • Have a plan in place

Aging doesn’t happen overnight but you do need to plan for the inevitable. This can run the spectrum from health to financial to legal. If your parents want to age in place, you need to consider home modifications. If your parents agree to moving into an assisted living setting, do they have the funds to pay for it? Do you have the proper legal documents in place to help your parents?  Seeking the help of a financial planner and an elder law /estate planning attorney can be beneficial. Often, we have no idea what our parents’ finances are or if they have completed any estate planning. You will also need a Health Care Proxy, a Durable Power of Attorney, a HIPAA release in order to help your parents with their medical, financial and legal needs.

  • Prepare for the inevitable

As sad as it is, that inevitable day will come. With the help from an elder law attorney, your parents can set up a Will or a Trust and also an Advanced Directive. An Advanced Directive details their wishes for the care in their final days and relieves you of any questions. It also serves as a blue print on how to plan their funeral and burial in accordance with their wishes.

©Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. 35 Arnold Street, New Bedford, MA 02740, 336 South Street,  Hyannis MA 02601 and 45 Bristol Drive, Easton MA 02375.  This article is for illustration purposes only.  This handout does not constitute legal advice.  There is no attorney/client relationship created with Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. by this article.  DO NOT make decisions based upon information in this handout.  Every family is unique and legal advice can only be given after an individual consultation with an elder law attorney.  Any decisions made without proper legal advice may cause significant legal and financial problems.