Becoming a caregiver for a parent is a life changing event that often catches adult children off guard and leaves them scrambling to meet the needs of their loved one.
This, of course, can make an already stressful situation much more difficult for everyone involved.
For this reason, taking some steps to prepare for the future needs of your aging parents is important for their well-being and yours. Here, we’ve put together some tips on how to prepare for becoming a caregiver for a parent – before the need arises.
Talk to your parent(s)
Having a practical discussion with your parents about their potential needs in the future and how they would prefer that those needs be handled, is very important.
Topics to explore include whether they are comfortable with you being their primary caregiver should the need arise, and whether they prefer in-home help or care in an assisted living or nursing facility if their medical/care needs demand more care than you can provide.
Find out who they would like to handle their financial affairs and how they prefer that they are managed. Get a rundown of their financial resources – will they be able to finance their own care, or will the family need to provide or arrange for financial support? What are their wishes for end-of-life care?
Have a family discussion
Once you know your parent’s wishes, working out a plan with any family members who will be involved in care decisions is your next step as you prepare for becoming a caregiver for a parent. Having a family meeting to coordinate potential care efforts is a great place to start. Discuss who will take on various care giving roles and responsibilities, how you will make decisions as a family when your loved one no longer can, and if your parent will need financial help, who is willing and able to pitch in.
Get important information, documents and legalities in order
Getting a handle on these things before they are needed can save a lot of stress and confusion when the time comes. Among the more important things to have in order as you prepare for becoming a caregiver for a parent include:
Your parent’s medical information, including medical conditions/problems, medications, and contact information for all medical providers.
Financial information, including all bank accounts, Social Security details, insurance policies and investments.
Legal documents, such as medical and/or financial durable powers of attorney, wills, and any living wills or advance directives they may have in place.
Research care options and costs
Knowing what resources are available in your area and their costs is important to prepare for the possibility that your parent may need more care than you can manage on your own. Options to research and price include home health care, adult day care, assisted living and nursing facilities in your area.