Be Prepared for Caregiving


Be Prepared to Care for Your Parents When They Grow Old

No one likes thinking of the day when their parents are unable to care for themselves. Even so, being prepared for the future will make the entire process more manageable and less stressful if and when it arises. Think of it this way: if you and your parents are caught off guard by a sudden debilitating illness, you may not be able to act quickly enough (or have a plan for) fixing the situation, which has the potential to be detrimental to your parents’ health in that critical time of need.

And don’t think it won’t happen to you. More than 65 million Americans are currently filling roles as family caregivers, according to the Caregiving Action Network. With an aging population, these numbers are expected to grow significantly over the next 30 years.

In this post, we’ll look at several things you should consider when planning for your parents’ future care needs.

Ask your parents what they want

If your parents are still in good health, now is the perfect time to ask them about their future care needs. Even though this can be a difficult conversation to initiate, there are many ways to bring it up. For example, you may try mentioning a recent newspaper article on the subject, or try talking about experiences your friends have gone through. Your parents may already be thinking about it, but the only way to really find out is through conversation.

Once the conversation is started, here is a list of things you need to address (adapted from an article by Meg Favreau on Wise Bread):

  • What are their retirement plans?
  • Do they both have an updated living will?
  • What about insurance for long-term care?
  • Is there another financial plan in case they need care?
  • What would their ideal scenario be if they need long-term care?

Beyond this, be sure to address your own opinions and needs. Would you be willing to take on a caregiving role? Would you be able to take any time off of work to do so? Is there anyone else, like a sibling or other loved one, who should be in on the conversation as well?

Costs involved

Like it or not, caregiving is expensive. According to the AARP, the average family caregiver of someone aged 50 or older spends more than $5,000 per year out of pocket taking care of their family member. What’s more, a 2009 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare found that the money spent by 47% of working caregivers caused them to us up all or most of their savings.

The type of care required also affects costs. For example, it may be cheaper to have home health care rather than moving your parents into a nursing home.

Depending on the situation, it may even be possible for you to get paid to be a caregiver. Check with local Medicaid requirements and insurance policies. If you don’t know where to start, call a local senior care agency.

Favreau recommends creating hypothetical budgets for multiple scenarios so you and your parents can weigh the pros and cons of each.

The stresses of caregiving

Caregiving is a notoriously stressful job. Taking on the role of the caregiver changes the parent/child dynamic, sometimes for good, but many times for bad. Confusion in roles and of who is in charge often fuels this situation. While it is comforting to have someone familiar in the role of caregiver, it also puts pressure and expectations on the family that can cause stress and anxiety.

With that said, family caregiving can also reap many rewards, one of which is bringing you closer to your parents. Things will naturaly get sticky from time to time, but that’s just a normal part of the situation. Whether or not you decide to be your parents’ caregiver is a personal decision, and before doing so, it’s important to make sure you and your parents are prepared for anything.

What are your thoughts on being a family caregiver? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

Encompass Senior Solutions currently serving Omaha, Eastern Nebraska and Western Iowa provides seniors and their families a complete understanding of geriatric care options and helps families maneuver through the challenges of the system. Get your free Cost Comparison guide by clicking here . Contact us for a free consultation, or just to say hello!

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