If you are an adult and your parents are getting older, you might be concerned about their health. Even if they are in good health now, you may wonder what the future could hold and how you would handle it if they needed long-term care. It’s better to make a contingency plan that you never need than to scramble to make a plan in the middle of a crisis. The tips below can help.
Know Your Responsibilities
First, you should know what your legal obligations are. Have your parents given you medical or legal power of attorney? The former sometimes has other names, such as an advance health care directive, and means that you will be responsible for making their health care decisions if they are unable. The latter means that in the same situation, you would be able to handle their financial affairs. If your parents have not created these documents, you may want to discuss it with them. It is also important to understand filial responsibility laws and know which states have these laws in place since they could make you financially responsible for them. You can review a guide on what these laws are and figure out if they apply to you.
Talk About It
In addition to talking to your parents about whether or not they need to create a power of attorney, you should discuss their thoughts about their own care. This can be tricky depending on your relationship with your parents and the temperaments of everyone involved. If they are active and healthy, they may be insulted or feel condescended to when you raise this topic. It’s important that you proceed respectfully and emphasize their autonomy. It may also be helpful if you point out that it is a discussion that helps the rest of the family because it gives you an idea of their preferences. This is likely to be a series of conversations over time rather than a single one.
Making an Assessment
From time to time, you can assess how your parents are doing. People who work in long-term care use the term ADLs, which stands for activities of daily living, and this is one metric that can be used to assess whether people can continue living independently. Sometimes, issues are easily solved if you can get to the bottom of them. A person who is struggling to button or zip clothing might simply need those items replaced with clothes that are fastened with Velcro or pants with elastic waistbands. In other cases, they may need someone to come in and help with certain tasks, such as cleaning or cooking.
Creating a Plan
With your parents, you can work out a plan that addresses issues that may arise as they age. Some people might be willing or even eager to move to assisted living environments, and you could take a look at some of these ahead of times. Others may be more resistant, and you may want to think of ways that can make it possible for them to continue living independently for as long as they can.
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