With the holidays behind us, we can reflect on the quality time we spent with our families. For many of us, the trip home was a way to share memories and traditions. However, for those of us who shared the holidays with aging parents, the extended time together brought to light issues we may not have previously noticed.
Did mom ask the same question four times during dinner? Is dad moving slower? Can dad continue to live in his house alone? These questions are hard to face and even harder to answer. We fear what lies ahead for them and what it may mean for us.
Fortunately, there are now many options and services to help seniors and their loved ones navigate the path ahead. However, the key is evaluating where your parent is in their journey before a health crisis is presented.
The key is talking to your family and siblings at the first sign of an issue. Waiting will not make the problem go away, and the earlier you agree on a plan, the more options you will have.
If possible, see an attorney who specializes in elder care. An attorney can help you navigate issues involving an aging parent, including helping you determine when is the right time for a power of attorney or asset transfer; how to apply long-term insurance benefits; or how to properly access Medicaid and Medicare benefits.
The next step is to visit independent and assisted care facilities that are convenient for you and your family members, so the interactions you have enjoyed over your lifetime with your mom or dad may continue. If possible, visiting different care facilities and speaking to caregivers and residents will provide you with critical information and give you a good feel about what levels of care are available and what everyday life looks and feels like there.
There are numerous agencies throughout the community that provide experienced, senior care advisors who offer a wealth of information about independent and assisted care options in your specific marketplace. Start by calling your local, county Office on Aging or visit the office’s website to obtain a senior resource guide or a list of local senior care advisors.
The good news is there are many options to help you and your family obtain information and manage the care process. The bottom line is to link into services early because it can make all the different in the health and happiness of everyone involved.