Moving a parent into your home where you can better look after Mom or Dad (or both) is a challenge more of us face every day. Baby Boomers are moving into their 60s, and members of the Woodstock Generation are faced with difficult choices about eldercare. Where will parents receive the best care, still feel at home, and be able to enjoy family activities throughout the year?
It’s a tough decision, and it can be a very tough transition. Here are some suggestions to help keep elderly parents happy and safe.
Start planning now. The day when a senior parent moves in may be a long way off, but planning and organizing a transition plan well in advance will smooth the transition for parents and the “kids” who will now take care of them.
How much will it cost to move Dad into your home? Will Mom need hands-on nursing care, or can your family handle routine chores like monitoring medication and preparing food?
What financial assets are available? If your family owns the house in which you grew up, that’s an asset that can be sold and converted to cash – cash to pay for health care services in your home or in an assisted-living facility.
What about the facilities at your home? Will an aging parent have privacy? Is your home handicap-accessible? Does it need to be, or is Mom still beating you at tennis?
Keep the parent in the loop. Your Mom and Dad have always been in control of their family lives – deciding where to vacation and what color to paint the house. Parents were in control of your weekend curfew. Remember?
Now, these people see a frightening difference. They aren’t in control anymore. The kids (you) are! This is a daunting situation for many parents. The roles are reversed.
Talk to parents and get their opinions. Enable them to be part of the transition process, and give them as much control as possible while still maintaining order in your own home.
Communicate plans well in advance of implementation to give parents time to integrate the new living conditions. Talk to your parents about changes before you commit to anything. A cooperative parent will be a lot happier than one who’s being “forced” out of his home.
Get the home ready for Mom or Dad. If a parent could use a little help bathing, install hand rails wherever necessary. Make sure you work with a licensed contractor to install those features that benefit an aging parent.
Don’t try to do it yourself, unless you’re a licensed contractor. If you miss a wall stud while mounting a handrail, Mom could take a serious tumble, so call in a pro with experience in retro-engineering homes for seniors.
Toss it. As you clean out Mom’s current residence, toss old paperwork, dead plants and other items that you don’t need. However, before you toss that beat-up old recliner, ask Dad. It may be “his” chair.
Everybody pitches in. Relatives should help in cleaning out the old place and fixing up your home for mom’s arrival. Don’t try to handle everything. Assign tasks to specific family members based on their individual skills. The brother who manages money may be the best choice to organize mom’s finances. Your sister, the RN, can look in regularly, take blood pressure, look for signs of illness, and even prepare a healthy meal.
How much is all this going to cost? Of course, it depends on how far a parent has to move, the level of care required, and other factors. For example, if you need an accessibility ramp to push Mom’s wheel chair into the house, add that to your projected costs. Also, add that hand rail installation and other remodeling required to keep an aging parent safe. If you add an in-law suite over the garage, you’ll pay even more.
It’s important to know which renovations and remodels are needed, how much they’re going to cost, and where the money to pay for these upgrades is coming from.
In-home health care is another expense – one that can tear through a lifetime of savings in a very short time. Have your parent or parents evaluated by a medical professional. Many assisted living and nursing home facilities require a medical evaluation to determine the cost of required care. Do the same.
Mom and Dad may be living the good life today, but look to the future. Five years from now, will your folks still be self-sufficient, or are you going to have a new roommate or roommates– Mom or Dad or both?
Learn all you can now about eldercare. Don’t wait until you actually need it. You’ll have fewer options, and more pressure to choose if you don’t “run the numbers” now.
Finally, visit your local branch of Nevada State Bank or schedule an appointment online to discuss financial options for you and your folks. You may want to set up a savings program to put away money for when it’s needed, or set up a home equity credit line to pay for home renovations.
Prepare now for a transition. They took good care of you back then. Now, it’s your turn to return the favor.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.
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