Do your parents need more care?

Unless your parents die young or are exceptionally hardy, they will need increasing care during the aging process. As you plan your estate or assist your parents in their estate planning, it is important to keep this in mind. 

Having the resources to pay for additional services, home care, assisted living or a nursing home will give you peace of mind during your own middle age or retirement. Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., serving clients throughout Southeastern Massachusetts & Cape Cod, has the skilled estate planning attorneys to protect your family’s assets for this purpose. But having the funds available is only half the story. It is crucial to assess your parents regularly to know when the next steps need to be taken.

At Surprenant & Beneski, P.C., both of our principal attorneys are Certified Elder Law Attorneys (2 of only 24 CELAs in Massachusetts), uniquely qualified to guide you through the financial and emotional complexities of caring for your aging parents. In addition to helping you to protect your assets (and your parents’) and to prepare all necessary documents, we can assist you in the process of becoming aware of changes in your loved ones that necessitate an evaluation of their needs as they age. 

Issues of Aging That Must Be Addressed

Much as we might like to deny it, as we age, our physical and mental abilities wane. Taking this into account and adapting to these changes is vital if we are going to continue to live a safe, comfortable, and happy life. As children of aging parents, it is our responsibility to pay attention to the following factors to protect our parents and provide them with the most fulfilling years possible.

Difficulty Managing Finances

If your parents are having more and more trouble paying their bills on time, forgetting to cash or deposit checks, or giving unreasonable amounts of money to charity, it is probably time to render assistance by helping or taking over their financial tasks. It is also important to remember that ignorance about computer or telephone scams or susceptibility to aggressive TV advertising can empty their bank accounts quickly.

Problems Driving

As the population ages, many seniors are driving past the time they should be at the wheel. Their problems may be visual, cognitive, or simply due to slowed reflexes, but at some time in their later years, most people will have to stop driving. Whether you recognize a problem when your parent tries to enter the parkway exit ramp or you observe dents on the car she or he can’t account for, take note before there is a serious accident.

Mobility Issues

Let’s face it: 80-year-olds may be wiser than 40-year-olds, but they’re not as agile. Pay attention to the strength, balance, and coordination of your parents as they age to make certain they don’t become one of the 25 percent of seniors who have a serious fall. Make sure throw rugs, high-shelf storage, unbanistered stairs, slippery shoe soles or bathtubs don’t lead to a catastrophe.

Mental health Matters

Depression and cognitive decline are common during aging and you want your parents to feel as well as they can. If you perceive that your parents are depressed — evidenced by sadness, inability to engage in or enjoy past interests, difficulty sleeping or sleeping excessively, lack of appetite or overeating, hopelessness — it is time for a medical and psychiatric evaluation for depression. 

There is a difference between normal cognitive decline and dementia. If you are uncertain about which is affecting one of your parents, a trip to a qualified neurologist is in order. In most cases, progressive dementia becomes undeniable at some point. 

Perhaps your parent has taken a sudden unplanned trip and gotten badly disoriented, forgotten to turn off the shower after getting out, is dressed in shorts in December, is unable to remember a grandchild’s existence, or has put the cell phone in the refrigerator. Momentarily terrifying or amusing as the episode may be, it requires immediate action.  

Addressing Problems as They Arise

For most, the problems of aging develop gradually. You may realize that it’s time for you to help or obtain assistance for your parents with banking, medication administration, food deliveries, laundry/cleaning services, or visiting nurses. Later on, you may become aware that they cannot manage without part-or full-time help in the home, or that it is time to consider assisted living or a nursing home. 

Contact Our Experienced Elder Law Attorneys Today

None of these decisions are easy to make, but the elder care attorneys at Surprenant & Beneski are here to discuss viable options and take care of important details, such as drafting and reviewing end-of-life documents. You can count on us for legal and emotional support when the going gets tough.