3 Things The New Caregivers Should Do

If you are in your forties, fifties, or sixties, you may be faced with caring for an aging parent in the near future. You are also one of four adults in America who are dealing with this challenging situation.

The proportion of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years.

Dr. Amy D’Aprix (From Surving to Thriving), and Carolyn L. Rosenblatt (The Baby Boomers Guide to Aging Parents) sat down and talked with us about the financial, legal and emotional stress that most of us will face in our lifetime as we move from child to caretaker.

Here are some tips from our guests about what baby boomer caregivers should do:

  1. Start Planning Now

    The earlier you start planning for your parent’s future the better. First, having THE conversation with your parent about their affairs can often be a difficult and uncomfortable situation but if you begin the conversation with respect for the rights and independence of the older adult it will make future conversations that much easier. Remember that planning, especially early, helps you as much as it does your parent.

  2. Educate Yourself about the Costs

    There are direct costs to consider when calculating the financial impact of caring for an elder parent such as an in-home care provider, rent/mortgage, medical bills, etc. and understanding these are crucial to planning.

    Research available resources in your state; these could greatly ease the financial impact. Contact your state agencies to find out about available Medicaid benefits as well as any benefits available to military veterans through the federal government.

    Indirect costs also exist that could negatively impact you. Costs such as the ability to continue working or a decline in the number of hours worked. These cuts to your income could impact your pension, Social Security benefits, and 401K savings and should be considered when deciding who is going to care for your parent.

  3. Identify Your Resources

    The good news is, even though it may seem like it, you are not alone. There is an informal network of resources that can assist with planning and deciding the best path for your family. There are many online tools to help you including the Family Security Planner that can be found at agingparents.com.

It’s important to have a guideline about things to ask your loved one. Some things you can begin to ask are:

  1. Is there an estate plan or simple will?
  2. Do you have a Power of Attorney?
  3. Where is your financial information kept including bank account numbers and passwords?
  4. Where is your insurance information kept?
  5. What are your current medications?
  6. What are your doctor’s names and their contact information?

Remember that there are others in a similar situation and several online resources exist such as the Family Caregiver Alliance (caregiver.org) who can help you with the emotional stress that can come with caring for an aging parent.

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