January 17, 2019
While every person ages differently, most Americans are living longer, fuller lives than in previous decades. This rising longevity often brings with it an increased need for physical, financial, and emotional support as your parent ages.
For adult children, this means navigating decisions about health care, estate planning, living arrangements, and long-term care alongside their aging parents. However, a study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave found that 76 percent of siblings have not talked with each other about how their parents will be cared for as they age. About the same amount—70 percent—of adults over 25 have not had the conversation directly with their parents.
To help make supporting your mom or dad easier, use these tips to assess your parent’s support needs and prepare for any future concerns.
Keep Track of Health Concerns
One of the biggest ways you can support your aging loved one is to be an advocate for his or her health. This starts with staying in the know about health issues, medications, frequency of doctor’s appointments, and how health affects day-to-day tasks. Have you noticed mom or dad complaining about something new, or have there been changes in his or her behavior? Understanding your parent’s overall health and well-being will allow you to know when you need to help advocate for better support. It will also help you guide choices about his or her long-term care—like moving to an assisted living community.
It isn’t always natural to talk openly about finances, but it is another big topic to discuss with your aging parent. Take note of any signs that your parent needs help keeping finances in order, such as stacks of mail or missed bills. You may start with small questions and ease into a bigger conversation about these financial concerns. Encourage mom or dad to seek professional financial expertise through a certified financial planner and ask if it would be helpful for you to attend the meeting. Understanding the big financial picture will help you make realistic decisions about long-term care.
Find Ways to Show Support
While support for big issues like health or finances is essential, it’s just as important to show your support in the everyday issues. There are many small ways you can show that you’re looking out for your parent’s best interest. Call regularly to check in and listen to his or her concerns. If he or she is unsure about a decision, help by researching options. If your mom or dad is thinking about moving to an assisted living community, help by setting up tours and driving your parent to them. By being there in small ways, you’ll build confidence in making important choices together.
Have an In-Depth Conversation
Sometimes the best way to find the right support for your parent is to sit down together and talk about the big questions. How is mom or dad doing with daily tasks? How does he or she feel about long-term care? Is it time to move somewhere with more support? If you think your loved one will be hesitant to talk, get others—like siblings—involved in the conversation. An in-depth conversation will help you understand your parent’s wishes and allow you to both feel good about your decisions moving forward.
We’re here to help you navigate the important decisions about providing support for your aging parent. Please call (214) 528-0660 today!