Our parents were not always perfect. They stumbled along the difficult process of raising us, using their experience and the guidance of their own parents along with community support systems; as many of us have done, and continue to do. They made mistakes but did their best to provide for us along the way. They showed us love and compassion but, also were stern and used a firm hand when needed. They took care of us and brought us into adulthood safely and with love.
Now we are adults and, sadly, we are starting to see that the health of many of our parents is waning. They have a little trouble going up the stairs; they are moving slower and more unsteady, losing sight, hearing, or worse…memory. What do we do when those who sacrificed everything for us need our help? Where do we begin? How do we handle this very special and delicate crisis that could continue for years or even decades? The painful reality is that many of us do not know where to begin. There are so many options out there and so much to do to prepare for what is to come.
Most will begin with an internet search, and then follow up with a series of calls to gather more information. This is will lead to some answers, but not a complete picture of what is best for the moment and what will be needed as a long term solution. There are many things to consider when making these decisions, my family and I had to make them with first my father, may he rest in peace, and more recently with my mother. I, thankfully, have been able to use my professional experience working with families in making just these decisions and helping them put all the pieces in place to first, help my own family and, now to help my clients. Here are a few things to consider when you need to make these decisions:
· What is their age?
This is important to consider because if they are just beginning to need help, they might not need more than a few minor modifications in the house or their lifestyle. A lot of the time, the younger they are, the more reticent they tend to be about giving up any of their independence.
· Is safety the primary concern?
Is your concern that they might not have the reflexes to drive safely anymore? Maybe an evaluation is in order. Are they unsteady when they walk? A device to assist them or a hired caregiver is needed. Is there memory beginning to go? Maybe you need a full-time caregiver or to find a facility that specializes in memory care. These are factors that not only elevate the urgency for seeking assistance but also could determine the arrangements that need to be made.
· What is your budget?
When facing a crisis such as this, most people fail to take into account the long-term needs of the person needing care. As the need for care escalates, so does the cost. Even with a long-term care policy in place, your coverage might not be adequate for lifetime care should you fail to properly plan. Keep in mind, people are living longer every day and the cumulative cost of care is steadily on the rise. There are many options for paying for care; proper planning and implementation of those plans are what will make this long lasting crisis the most manageable.
· How much socialization do they require?
As people get older, their children age, their friends pass away, life moves on. This can have many adverse effects and can even impact their quality of life. Some people combat this by continuing to work later than their counterparts, others just isolate themselves. The level of needed socialization will play a role in the type of care a person needs. If the person just needs someone to converse with a couple of hours a day, home care might be the best option, but if they require regular activity and more social gathering, a senior community might be the way to go. Just keep in mind the level of social activities that your parents maintained when considering this.
· Consider Medicaid Spend-down
The rules for how monies and assets can be spent, gifted, etc., in order to avoid undue penalties is not common knowledge. There are a complicated series of schedules and penalties associated with not adhering to those rules. Finding the right Medicaid specialist, elder law attorney, estate planner as key for a smooth transition of funds and avoiding a lot of headaches. Just be warned, there are many organizations that are very skilled in these matters, but there are also some very unscrupulous characters out there as well; do your homework.
Taking care of those that once took care of us can be overwhelming and can put us in a situation where we can be taken advantage of; this is why getting the right set of professionals and services in place is so important. Let us help you create that customized plan for you and your loved ones and help put it into place.