Checklist for Taking Care of Elderly Parents

There are many things to consider when you’ve decided to care for an aging parent. It can be overwhelming to remember everything you should be doing and accounting for when you take on this responsibility.

We have shared some ideas and helpful hints for adult children of aging parents on our Senior Lifestyle blog. Recently, we offered 12 Books to Read If You’re an Adult Caregiver.

Here is a senior care checklist of things you should be aware of, and where to go for more information.

Caregiving

Any aging parents checklist should include a plan for how you give care to your parents. But be aware that you should revisit your plan often. As your parents’ needs change, so should your plan.

Some points to consider when caring for your parents:

  • Clarify caregiving with your family. Put in writing family members’ caregiving roles, and stick to it.
  • Don’t forget about pets. Decide what to do with their pets if your parents need to move.
  • Explore various care options. Find out about in-home care, personal care homes and senior living. Contact Senior Lifestyle today to compare our various care offerings for your parents.
  • Meet with your parents’ doctors regularly. Keep informed and make adjustments in their care needs.

Financial

A good elder care checklist should include a look at your parents’ finances. Getting their affairs in order is important. Here are some things to watch for:

  • Check into financial help. Investigate public benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and veterans benefits.
  • Examine insurance and retirement plans. See if your parent has disability coverage, life insurance, long-term care insurance, pension benefits and workplace health insurance. See if they cover home health visits, mental health services, physical therapy, skilled nursing or other short-term assistance.
  • Explore the Family and Medical Leave Act. As a caregiver, you may be entitled to take a leave of absence of up to 12 weeks under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Find out more information.
  • Find tax breaks. Federal tax deductions may be available for many health care costs, including acquiring a hospital bed or wheelchair; hiring a part-time or short-term home health aide to provide respite for the main caregiver; paying for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by health insurance; and remodeling the home to make it accessible.

Find out more about financial planning for seniors and their families.

Health and Medical

Understanding your parents’ health and medical needs is key to caring for them. Work with your parents to do the following:

  • Connect with your parents’ doctors. Complete paperwork at each provider’s office so you can view and discuss medical records.
  • Escort your parents to their medical appointments. Get a clear understanding of their health and the results of visits and tests. This will help you plan for their needs.
  • Monitor your parents’ medications. Check that they’re taking their pills, and schedule all refills for the same day each month to make it easier. Find out about autofill options.

Download our guide to senior health and wellness.

Legal

While your parents are relatively healthy, take care of their legal issues. Use this caring for aging parents checklist to help you remember to:

  • Become an authorized user on your parents’ accounts. This will allow you to pay your parents’ bills if they are no longer able to.
  • Collect your parents’ documents. Organize them into easy-to-use files. Important papers include:
    • Birth certificate
    • Citizenship papers
    • Death certificate of a spouse or parent
    • Deeds to cemetery plots
    • Deeds to property
    • Divorce decree
    • Insurance policies
    • Marriage certificate
    • Military discharge papers
    • Pension benefits
  • Help your parents with legal documents. They will need a will and an advance care directive. Have them grant you a general power of attorney so you can make decisions if they become incapable themselves.
  • Meet with an elder law specialist. These lawyers can help you sort out common concerns, such as seeking guardianship of your parents, managing their money, and planning strategies to protect their assets.

Parents’ Wishes

Talk to your parents about their values and wishes as soon as you can. Before dementia and other illnesses cloud the issue, get clarity on what they expect as they grow older. Don’t avoid this difficult but necessary discussion. Among the things to ask them:

  • Have you thought about how you want to be remembered?
  • If you are no longer able to do the things you once enjoyed or take care of yourself, what is most important to you?
  • If you have a life-threatening illness, what sort of medical care do you want?
  • If you have dementia, do you want doctors to focus on life-saving measures, or comfort measures?
  • What are your fears about growing older?
  • What do your final arrangements look like?
  • What does a good end look like to you? Do you want to be in a hospital with doctors doing all they can, or resting at home?

Find out more in our caregivers’ guide to dementia

Safety

Seniors face physical challenges as they age, from the dangers of falling to the failing memories associated with dementia. Here are some area to consider:

  • Find out about your parents’ particular risks. Coordinate with their doctors to help your parents avoid falls and other dangers.
  • Meet with a geriatric care coordinator. Have them assess home safety and develop a plan.
  • Invest in monitoring technology. An alarm or security camera can alert you if an older person is wandering away, while a necklace or bracelet with GPS can help you track their location.

Other lists can help you coordinate your parents’ care. For example, AARP has a thorough collection of documents and lists you can print out and keep as part of this aging parents guide.

Learn more about caring for your aging parents

Follow up this elderly parents checklist with more information about your care options. Contact Senior Lifestyle today to get answers to your questions about senior housing.

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