Your mom forgets to turn off the kitchen sink faucet. Your dad goes to the movies and falls for no apparent reason. The house you grew up in has a flight of stairs outside and another flight inside; not great for arthritic knees and hips. If your number’s up and it falls to you or your siblings to take responsibility for the lives of your aging parents, here are The First Five Things:
1. Medical: Make sure your parent has seen a doctor and had a recent physical. Best to know what’s going on under the hood. Make a list of all their doctors and all their medications. Have their doctor or a pharmacist check for any possible bad interactions.
2. Financials: Find out what your parents’ assets are, figure out what outstanding debt they have, add up monthly income, i.e. pensions, Social Security, work income, investment dividends. Check to see if they have a will, a living trust, decisions about power of attorney.
3. Safety: Take an objective look at where your parents currently live. Is it safe – are there throw rugs they could trip on? Are there stairs they can manage, even if they’re carrying bags of groceries? What about grab bars in the shower? If you’re thinking of moving your parents in with you, check your own living situation for the same safety concerns.
4. SOS: Raise the flag and let sibling, other family members, friends, neighbors, anybody you can think of, know that your parents are due for some assistance. Shake the bushes and see if anybody, ANYBODY, will help you help them. Your solution could be as easy as setting up a rotation of regular visitors checking in on the 'rents.
5. Talk: Most importantly, talk to your parent(s). Preferably, talk to them BEFORE it's a crisis situation and when they have time to consider options and voice opinions. Practically no one wants to admit they need help, so this is one of those ideas that takes time to ferment and take root. Find out what your parents would like to do: if they’re open to living with you or another sibling, or moving to a senior community, either for independent living or with asissted care.
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In the next 20 years, people will be turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day. Who do you think will care for your parents? Who, besides me, is dealing with parental care?
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