Caring for aging parents is a sensitive and complicated task for adult children. It may be difficult at first, but talking with parents about their needs can strengthen family bonds while providing you with vital information.
Performing an assessment of your parents' physical, mental, environmental, social, and financial situation can help you discover areas of concern, minimize risks, and help your parents stay independent for as long as possible. Here are some questions that you may want to ask:
- Do they suffer from any chronic conditions?
- Do they experience incontinence, weight fluctuations, bone fractures, unsteadiness, dental problems, or other irregularities?
- Who are their doctors and other medical professionals?
- What medications do they take? What are the dosages?
- Do they take their medicines as directed?
- Have they ever been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, Alzheimer's disease, or dementia?
- Do they show signs of mood swings, forgetfulness, confusion, or depression?
- Do they seem to have lost interest in friendships or recreational activities?
- How easily do your parents move around the house? Do they need walkers, canes, or other special devices, such as bathroom grab bars?
- Can they do the following without assistance: dressing, personal hygiene activities, communicating by telephone, walking, climbing stairs, cooking, cleaning, and driving?
- If your parents have pets, can they adequately care for them?
- Is their neighborhood secure? Does their home have safety features like smoke alarms, grab bars, and non-slip flooring?
- Can they perform necessary home and yard maintenance?
- Do they know how to protect themselves from predatory scams and fraud?
- Can they easily access the contact information of friends and family members?
- Do they interact with friends or family members on a regular basis?
- Are your parents able to pay their bills and maintain good financial status?
- Do they have wills, powers of attorney, etc.?
- Do you know where to find important financial and legal documents?
You may wish to speak with a professional regarding areas of particular concern.
Finally, there may come a time when your aging parents require more help than you can give. Long-term care for the elderly can be very costly; for many families, long-term care insurance is a flexible solution to meet both medical and financial needs. Consult an insurance professional for a plan that fits your individual situation.