Part of life is a role reversal that hits as our parents reach old age. For many people, at some point they become incapable of truly caring for themselves or maintaining their own home, at which point that role reversal hits, and the children become the caretakers. By this time, the children have often reached late middle age themselves, and even though they have had a lot of experiences and responsibilities in their lives before this, they might not be fully prepared to handle the care of a parent.
If this is a situation you find yourself in, it’s important you know the issues that you must confront when caring for elderly parents. Here are just a few examples:
- Medical and health concerns: Elderly people are going to have more medical and health concerns than younger people. These could include ongoing symptoms or health concerns, or sudden new developments. You should be prepared to take your parent to and from doctor’s appointments, manage their prescriptions and ensure they get the proper healthcare. This in itself can be a big responsibility.
- Housing issues: The more a person’s health and fitness degrades, the more difficult it can be for them to remain in a home by themselves without assistance. You should consider whether or not your parents’ housing situation is a good fit in their current state and their likely future state, and what type of environment might be better for them, whether that’s moving to assisted living or moving in with you or another family member.
- Relationships and family issues: You can expect there to be challenges with relationships and family dynamics when you’re caring for an older parent. It’s all too easy to overstep your bounds and threaten the autonomy of your parents, or to strain your relationship by trying to do more than what they want you to do. It is a sensitive time in a person’s life—many elderly people have difficulty admitting they’re no longer capable of doing certain tasks. It’s important to practice strong communication skills and to work hard on your relationship.
- Financial and legal issues: You might notice your elderly parents beginning to lose the capacity to manage their own finances or legal affairs. If this starts to happen, that means your parents will also become more vulnerable to potential exploitation. It’s a good idea to encourage them to update or create estate plans if they haven’t already to grant power of attorney and protect themselves and their assets.
- Safety: General safety becomes a concern as people get older as well. Elderly people are more susceptible to falls, are more likely to see degrading driving performance and safety, and generally need more accessibility around their homes. These are all issues to keep in mind and address appropriately.
- Paying for a nursing home stay and other long-term care: It is important not to wait until the money runs out. Work with a professional elder care attorney to set up a plan well in advance of running out of money.
MA Elder Law Attorney
For more information about some of the issues you’re going to need to confront when starting to care for elderly parents, we encourage you to contact an experienced elder law attorney at Baker Law Group, P.C.