5 Essential Things to Do When Caring for an Aging Parent

More than 34 million Americans are caring for an adult over the age of 50. When the adult you’re caring for is your parent, it can be especially difficult. Not only are you forced to face the emotions of watching your parent get older, but you’re suddenly reversing roles and taking care of the person who once cared for you. We’re currently dealing with the beginning of this kind of journey right now with my very own dad.

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Besides helping them with daily tasks, you’ll also likely find yourself helping them make financial decisions or navigate insurance and benefits. If you’re taking over the care of an aging parent, keep reading to learn five essential things you need to do.

Look Into Free and Low-Cost Benefits

Even if you and/or your parent have savings tucked away, caring for an aging parent is expensive. You may need to take time off or cut your hours at work to provide care. They may require in-home or regular outpatient care. Modifications may need to be made to make their home safe to stay in.

Whether you think you can handle it financially or not, it’s a good idea to look into free and low-cost public benefits that may be available to your parent. Some benefits that may be available include:

  • Discounts on medications and other health care services
  • Nutrition assistance programs
  • Tax relief
  • Affordable housing and foreclosure prevention

The National Council on Aging’s website provides more information on finding out what types of assistance your parent may be eligible for.

Make Sure Their Medical Needs are Covered

Whether your parent has been handling his or her own insurance plans or not, it’s a good idea to double-check their coverage to ensure that they are protected, no matter what happens. But while Medicare will cover doctor’s visits and hospital stays, don’t forget about other medical needs as well, like dental and vision coverage. 

Having dental coverage is just as important as medical coverage. While your parent may no longer care about keeping a bright white smile, keeping our mouths healthy can help us keep the rest of our body healthy as well. Poor oral health has been connected to heart disease, gum disease, and more.

Medicare dental plan provides regular dental visits and preventative care to keep your loved one healthy. It also ensures that they are protected financially if something does go wrong so that they never have to decide whether they can afford a necessary procedure.

Protect Your Parent From Scams

Seniors in the U.S. lose an estimated $2.9 billion in scams each year, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Unfortunately, scam artists continue to change their methods and can be very convincing, especially to older adults who are unaware of their methods.

Protecting your parents from these scams can be difficult, especially if they are still in control of their own finances. Keeping them up-to-date on the latest scams, and recommending that they ask you before providing personal information over the phone or making a purchase online, can help you keep them safe.

Have the Difficult Conversations While You Can

There are plenty of difficult questions you need to ask your parent as they get older. Don’t wait until they have a medical emergency to have those conversations and help them get their affairs in place.

If they don’t already have a will, help your parent connect with a lawyer and work through making decisions about how they want to be cared for or who will make their medical decisions when the time comes.

Don’t Put Your Own Retirement at Risk

When an aging parent needs your help, it can be easy to fall into the trap of putting your own life on the sideline. But if this continues for months or even years, you could be putting your own retirement and financial security at risk.

While you may choose to quit your job or take care of your parent full-time, make sure that you are taking measures to keep your own finances and future retirement on track at the same time. As you’re helping your parent navigate retirement, insurance, and more, take the time to get your own retirement plan in place so that you are better prepared for the future.

Caring for Your Parent

Learning how to care for an aging parent can be an emotional process. But doing so can help you show your love for the person who raised you, and also allow you to help keep them comfortable and happy in their later years.

Have YOU had to care for your aging parent? Any tips for those of us who are just getting started?

Due to the amount of comments from all of my wonderful readers, it is not always possible for me to respond to each one. However, I absolutely do read them all, and if you’d like to address something specific, or have a question for me, please don’t hesitate to email me at Kristen@theroadtodomestication.com. I will respond to your email as soon as possible! Thank you for visiting the blog!

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