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A Guide to Caring for Your Aging Parents

While aging is inevitable, so too are its effects. It is also undeniable that how we age will ultimately impact our families and loved ones that we rely upon. It can be challenging for adult children to think about their parents aging, let alone attempt to imagine how they might age. Even if you are fortunate to have parents who are able to remain independent for a long time, there may come a day when they require assistance or long-term care. However, there are things you can do to help your parents live their best quality of life possible. Managing their welfare takes time, research, and planning. A good start is contacting an elder law attorney for guidance.

Gauging Your Parent’s Level of Independence

Your parents and their abilities to remain independent are most easily defined by activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living (ADLs and IADLs). Activities of daily living address daily functional mobility like getting in and out of bed or a chair, self-feeding, bathing and personal hygiene, using the toilet, and getting dressed. These are essential daily living requirements that promote dignity and physical as well as emotional well-being. If your parents are having difficulty managing these ADLs, it is an appropriate time to find help for them, whether it is you or another qualified caregiver.

IADLs include all ADL activities and more. The additions are grocery shopping and cooking, medication management, laundry and other housework, bill paying and finance management, using a telephone, and driving or using public transportation. Recognizing your parent’s limitations in any of these categories is a sign that you need to develop a care plan that provides appropriate assistance. The degree of change or multiple changes indicates that staying at home, or staying at home without additional assistance, may no longer be in your parent’s best interest. If you require assistance determining suitable care needs, you can set up a comprehensive geriatric assessment by a medical professional. Take an honest look at the stage of life your parent is experiencing and then find the support and help they require.

Convenience for Visiting and Communicating with Aging Parents

Your aging parents’ geographical location is critical to consider as a family. Families are fortunate when one adult child lives nearby and can ensure their parents’ wellbeing. Video chat, either online or through a phone app, is one way to check on a parent daily. A friend who lives nearby could also do wellness checks and provide information about behavioral or health changes. If none of these options are viable, it may be time to discuss the idea of your parent(s) downsizing to a more supportive location and living arrangement.

Having this discussion is best before a parent’s adverse health event. Making residential changes without a previous plan in place can negatively impact the parent, especially when experiencing a health care crisis. When aging at home cannot be appropriately managed, it is time to consider the alternatives, including independent living communities, assisted living communities, nursing homes, or living with a relative or family member.

Financial Resources for Changing Needs

These assessments and changes in your parents’ lives impact their financial outlook. Making necessary changes in living arrangements can be very costly, and your parent(s) may need additional financial support from government or community programs to offset expenses. It is critical to take advantage of all possible financial help. As an adult child, you may have to begin managing your parents’ finances and retirement funds more actively. Various federal, state, and non-profit groups provide free tax assistance for seniors.

Some of the better organizations to help you navigate what options are available can be found online, such as, Area Agency on Aging, and These groups can help you assess the best strategies for:

  • Housing
  • Healthcare
  • Financial assistance
  • Legal aid
  • Transportation
  • In-home services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Energy and utility support
  • Nutrition

BenefitsCheckUp is part of the National Council on Aging and is considered the nation’s most comprehensive online service for seniors with limited income and resources. The information available canvases all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Sharing the Responsibilities

Caring for your aging parents should not be the job of one family member. The commitment should not be a burden, and responsibilities should be shared. Look for caregiver support organizations and forums and involve all family members. Everyone should do their part. The goal is to find the best blend of options and resources to allow your parents to age well. Your parents’ health changes mean that available programs and opportunities change too. Caring for your aging parents is a dynamic process that must adapt and evolve to their needs.

We help families who are trying to navigate the maze of long-term care either for themselves or an aging parent. Contact our office at 1 (800) 680-1717 and schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matters with an elder law attorney. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

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