Caring For Your Aging Parents may be one of life’s highest callings, but it can also put a severe strain on one’s time, finances, and life experiences. In some instances, personal sacrifice brings regret and bitterness, creating ill will against those one has promised to help. In taking time to care for aging parents, Americans lose up to $325,000 in lifetime earnings. With these losses and others in mind, below are several tips on the financial ramifications of care giving.
Think Carefully Before Quitting Work
While many believe that quitting their jobs will leave them with more time to care for a parent, the time they gain is often offset by lost retirement savings. If someone leaves work, they may find it difficult to find a job later on, especially if they’re out of the workforce for a few years.
Consider the Loss of Other Benefits
Along with health coverage, many workers also get life insurance, employee disability, and long-term care coverage. These can be costly to replace on the private market, leaving them out of reach for many families. Employees should check out their companies’ family leave and flex time policies, which may allow them to keep their jobs while caring for their parents.
Set a Budget for Care-giving
Before making the decision to leave work, the caregiver should honestly evaluate what they spend on caregiving. It may help to make a list of the parent’s resources and to find out how they may supplement various caregiving activities.
Find Out About Public Benefits
Several resources can help workers find and get help with some caregiving tasks. The National Council on Aging has a checklist service, the government has an eldercare locator, and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging has significant information on caregiving assistance. With these resources, adult children can find assistance in their area.
Research Medicaid and Medicare
While many believe that nursing home care is covered by Medicare, that’s not the case. Medicaid offers such coverage, but they only extend it to those who have expended most of their assets. When determining how best to care for an elderly parent, it’s important to consider their Medicare coverage as well as their Medicare Advantage or Medigap policy, prescription drug coverage, and more. There are copays, out-of-pocket limits, and other financial aspects to consider when deciding how to step into a caregiver’s role.
Understand the Cost of Allowing a Parent to Age in Place
Most seniors would prefer to age gracefully and comfortably at home, surrounded by their favorite memories and treasured possessions while living by themselves. However, families should give careful consideration to the costs of aging in place, and they should find help if necessary. While institutional and in-home care have their own costs, aging in place can be expensive as well, and the costs should be considered during the decision-making process.
Consider Getting Professional Help
If a person’s needs are challenging and extensive, the adult caregiver should consider hiring a geriatric care manager who can write a care plan and find nearby resources to reduce expenditures of time and money. The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers can direct families toward professional services in their areas.
Look for Finance Scams
As reprehensible and unethical as it is, financial abuse of senior citizens has become a cottage industry during the recent economic downturn. It’s up to the adult caregiver to ensure that their parents are kept from making expensive, poor, and hasty financial decisions.
Have the Talk
Adults should understand what their parents want in the event they’re no longer able to make their own decisions. While the conversation about legal responsibility and power may be an uncomfortable one, it’s an important talk to have. If an adult caregiver doesn’t know much about living wills, powers of attorney, and healthcare proxies, they should find an attorney or eldercare expert who can offer advice.
Plan for Retirement
Despite the efforts one makes in caring for their aging parents, it’s important for them to plan for their own retirement. Not everyone has a plan, and many people end up being unable to support themselves after years of being a caregiver. Taking care of a parent can have significant financial effects on one’s future, and caregivers should take steps to deal with the implications.
Being a caregiver for an elderly parent can be an extremely rewarding job, but it can be physically, emotionally, and financially taxing as well. By following these tips, adult children can become caregivers without causing themselves undue stress.
Growing Old at Home: Upgrades and the Best Gifts and Products for Aging Parents
Aging isn’t kind to everyone, and it waits for no one. Most people lose some of their mobility as the years go by. Over two-thirds of people over 50 say that they want to retain their independence by staying in their homes, according to information from AARP. Aging in place can be expensive, and necessary modifications can cost thousands of dollars. However, when compared to the cost of moving to an assisted living, independent living, or retirement facility, aging in place can be quite cost-effective. Below are several of the Best Gifts and Products for Aging Parents.
Many seniors use wheelchairs or walkers, but these mobility aids don’t always fit through conventional doorways. On a home’s first floor, consider widening doorways to at least 32 inches, if not more. It can cost a few hundred dollars for every door, not including the cost of moving electrical components. It’s also a good idea to remove or lower door sills so wheelchairs and walkers can easily get in.
People with arthritis may find it hard to turn a conventional doorknob, and the installation of levers can help aging parents retain their self-sufficiency. This project can easily be done at home, and the hardware is fairly inexpensive. Don’t forget to switch the knobs on all the closet doors in the home as well.
As a person gets older and their eyesight starts to fail, they may need more lighting to get things done. All parts of the house, especially stairways, should be well-lit. This can mean adding lights or bringing more lamps into the house. It’s a good idea to replace toggle-style light switches with wider, flat rocker switches that are much easier to manipulate.
A single-handled faucet that doesn’t need to be turned is a cheap and easy upgrade. Better still, there are fixtures that are motion-controlled; these don’t require holding or grabbing, although they’re a bit costlier.
Safety bars and handrails around showers and toilets can prevent falls and provide additional support. However, they don’t have to look like the clinical, sterile ones found in hospitals. This is a great DIY project, but it has to be done correctly, with the bars attached to the wall in a way that will support a person’s weight if necessary.
Vanities offer storage space, but they can make the bathroom sink inaccessible to someone who uses a wheelchair. A wall-mounted sink can be bought for less than $50 and installed in a day. While these are good for seniors with disabilties, the exposed pipes should be covered to prevent burns.
Hand-held showerheads are cheap to buy and easy to install. These sprayers can be mounted to conventional shower fixtures or on rods that allow users to change the height. Rods allow others to use the shower, and they’re great for seniors with handicaps who need to sit while showering.
One of the most substantial expenses for someone who wants to age in place is replacing the tub with a shower stall. Barrier-free walk-in showers should have a sloped floor to allow easy drainage, and they should include removable benches as well. Glass doors may look good, but shower curtains are an easier and more adaptable option.
Flooring in the Bathroom
Large marble or porcelain tiles may look stylish, but they can lead to slip and fall injuries. With smaller tiles, the grout lines increase the friction on the floor, making it safer. Even if all the other fixtures are kept the same, replacing the bathroom floor is a top priority for those who which to age in place.
Some senior care experts suggest the installation of an induction cooktop in the kitchen. These cooktops stay cool and minimize the risk of burns and boilovers. Stove guards are a cheaper alternative, and they shut the cooktop off after a certain amount of time.
Cabinet retrofitting is a modification that helps the senior and others who live in the home. Individual sliding shelves are relatively inexpensive, and they can bring items within easy reach for someone with disabilities. It’s also a good idea to replace cabinet knobs with handles that are easier to grip.
A person’s depth perception and their ability to tell the difference between objects of similar hue can decline with age. An all-white or neutrally colored kitchen can be a risk for a senior who finds it hard to distinguish between the edge and the top of the counter. When remodeling, choose counters with colored edges or those that contrast with the cabinets, walls, and floors.
A home with stairs can present serious barriers to those who want to age in place. While stairs offer seniors a way to get more exercise without leaving home, they can become hard or impossible to use as one gets older and they lose their mobility. It might be possible to move the senior’s bedroom to the first floor, resolving the issue at a low cost. Alternatively, a chair lift for the stairs can cost anywhere from $1000 for a straight staircase to upwards of $15,000 for winding staircases.
While assisted living facilities, independent senior communities, and nursing homes are viable options for some families, many senior citizens want to remain in their homes as long as possible. With the features and upgrades listed here, adult children can help their parents remain self-reliant well into their golden years.