If you’ve noticed subtle changes in your aging parents — such as unusual bouts of forgetfulness or other behavioral changes — it may be time to bring it up.
Whether they need to make a change now or inevitably will in the future, now is the time to acknowledge their aging and discuss their options for independent or assisted living. For them to make the best decision, they’ll need to review their specific health conditions, financial situations, as well as physical and social needs.
With this goal in mind, the following tips can help the entire process go as smoothly as possible:
Make Sure They Have the Right Medicare Plan
Accessible, affordable healthcare is an essential part of aging. Most Americans qualify for Original Medicare at age 65. This includes Medicare Parts A and B, which provide inpatient and outpatient care. For further Medicare coverage, consider looking into Parts C and D. Part C, also known as a Medicare Advantage plan, essentially bundles each Medicare plan into one, offering inpatient and outpatient care, drug prescription coverage and other benefits including dental and vision. Medicare Part D provides prescription drug coverage. If your parents are not yet 65 or only have Original Medicare, they may have to wait until a special enrollment period to apply.
Look into In-Home Care
There are a number of options for seniors who want to stay at home, but also need a bit of assistance. For example, occupational therapists can evaluate your parents’ and their home and make remodeling recommendations. This can include installing a chair lift or safety rails to reduce the chances of falling. A therapist can also work with your parents to help improve their strength and balance. If your parents are amenable to the idea, they may also enjoy going to an adult activity center where they can have a meal or two, engage in activities and get some basic medical care but still remain in their residence.
If the main issue is housekeeping, work with your parents to hire a cleaning service that comes regularly and helps with basic chores like vacuuming, dishes and dusting. Also, to help ensure your parents take their medications on schedule, you might look into an in-home care agency. These services also usually offer help with running errands and assisting with meal preparation.
Evaluate Retirement Homes
If your parents feel that a retirement home would be a better choice, reassure them that they have a number of options. This includes an independent living community, assisted living, memory care and continuing care retirement community. For many older adults and their adult children, assisted living is a great compromise. Your mom and dad will be able to maintain their privacy and independence in a private apartment, but they can still get help with bathing, dressing, meal preparation and other care. Whatever type of facility your parents select, be sure to set up tours for all of you, and try to visit a number of places prior to making a final decision.
Taking Care of Those Who Cared for You
It can be difficult to watch your parents get older and have difficulties taking care of basic tasks. But by helping them along the way you can rest assured you are doing what you can to assist your aging parent as much as possible.