So many aspects of our lives are circular. The human lifecycle goes around in a perfect circle: a child is born, grows up, ages, then passes away. Even though we all know that this cycle is inevitable, it can still be emotionally (and financially) uncomfortable to see an aging parent start to need our help.
This role reversal, the child caring for the parent, is a difficult adjustment for each party involved. Even though this is a difficult process, there are ways to make it manageable. I’d like to show you how to best prepare to take care of your aging parent.
1. Be mindful of the role reversal.
For as long as they can remember, your parents have taken care of you. They remember the sleepless nights when they couldn’t lull you to bed, your smile on your first day of school, the pride they feel for all of your accomplishments. They have taken care of you. As they slowly lose their capacities, it may become time for you to care for them. This transition is not an easy one. It not only involves deteriorating health, but it also involves a decline in control. With this combination, negative feelings can form.
Animosity can be a growing feeling between both parties in this difficult time. It is best to address these growing concerns with empathy and compassion. This change is difficult for both of you, therefore addressing any issues in a calm and open manner is the best way to resolve problems quickly.
It is also important to keep the line of communication open. It will take time to figure out your new place in the other’s lives and how the day-to-day routine will work. By instilling a productive line of communication, you will be more likely to make that transition easier. This communication will be crucial to developing a plan together, that works for both of you. If you make the plan together, it will be more successful.
2. Evaluate your finances.
Caring for an aging parent is a costly endeavor. Before you jump into your caregiving role, it is important to take a look at your finances. You don’t want to deplete your own savings on the cost of professional caregiving, so I’d like to show you some options that could work for you.
Look at the hard numbers.
Caring for an aging parent is more expensive than you might think. You will pay in time and money. Most family caregivers report spending about 25-30 hours per week caring. These demands often leave people taking an extended leave from their full-time job which can lead to many financial consequences. It may be necessary for you to halt work for the time being, but before you do it is important to know your financial commitments as a caregiver.
Think through these questions to help you evaluate the total cost of your caregiving situation. What is the extent of the care needed? Will this care require medical intervention and professional help? Be honest with yourself here, because it is the best way to get the full view of your situation.
Professional caregiving is really expensive, but it may be necessary. Look at the amount of time you will need professional help and factor that time into your overall costs.
Be mindful of government programs.
There are many government programs available to help with caring for aging loved ones. Some programs offer financial relief for medical care and services and others offer day services that will allow you to continue working. These day services are a great option because they free up your time and allow your parent to socialize and develop a new sense of community. There are also many volunteer programs, look into these to see what services are available to you. Your financial advisor will be able to help you identify ones in your area.
Don’t take on the financial burden alone.
Now is the time to call on other family members to help you. If you have a sibling, perhaps one will be able to help with medical care costs and the other could help with day-to-day costs like groceries and other bills. Community support is imperative during this time.
The circle of life comes with many ups and downs. When the time comes for you to care for your parents, it is important to devise a plan. By evaluating your finances, the financial commitment of caregiving, and the resources and people there to help you, you will be able to make it work.
Your financial advisor will be able to offer guidance and assistance during this transitional time, as well. Have questions? Contact us today. We’d be honored to help you and your parents through this new phase of your lives.