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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tips for Assisting Aging Parents

1. Life changes are difficult

Discussing life changes, such as moving (whether downsizing or finding a care facility), losing driving privileges, or a managing a tightening budget are hard conversations for an aging parent (actually having to plan for these can be even more overwhelming). Taking small steps toward specific goals can be helpful. Writing down each step needed and crossing them off as goals are met can make it easier to complete each step, even if it seems to make the list of tasks to complete even longer.

2. Financially, aging is scary

No matter how much money someone has, it can be frightening to think about the expenses associated with aging, especially when sources of income are limited. Talking to a qualified professional to discover options to cover any possible expenses can provide peace of mind.

3. Asking for help can overwhelming

Parents are generally reluctant to ask for help or even admit they need it. Most needs can be observed if you pay attention, even without the parent asking. Does the parent struggle in certain tasks? Is there something you can do to help without them asking? Can asking indirect questions lead to an answer? Even asking directly "Mom, was there something I can help with?"

4. Aging parents can be forgetful

Memory can start to diminish in young adulthood, though it may not be noticeable until later years. This is frustrating and can lead to depression. Sharing family photos and reminiscing about happy times can be uplifting. You can also play simple games with an aging parent to help keep their mind sharp.  AARP has some fun-simple games to boost seniors’ memories.

5. Patience is important

Transitioning into new phases of life can be hard. Be patient with your aging parents. Remember they were patient with you when you where learning to walk, talk, eat with your mouth closed, not to mention those teenage years.

6. Be ready for the worst, hope for the best

When planning with an aging parent, gracefully plan for worst-case scenarios by creating a comprehensive estate plan geared to a senior’s needs and the potential need for long term care in a facility or from a family member. Planning early can help relieve the stresses involved with aging. Approach the subject gently. The goal is to encourage a healthy lifestyle while protecting against the negative aspects that are bound to occur.

7. Socialization

Losing a spouse, one’s freedom, and/or coping with financial issues can isolate an aging parent. While aging at home is often desired, a person’s social world narrows when living alone. Senior community centers and Adult Day Services offer social activities as wells as clubs and church groups. Search Google for clubs to find places that can offer positive social interactions for your aging loved ones.

8. Available Resources

Many families and aging parents are unaware of resources and help available from Senior Community Centers and Senior Services Departments (aka senior aging departments). Financial benefits may be available through the VA or Medi-Cal programs. A geriatric care manager and a qualified elderlaw attorney can guide you through the options for your aging parent.


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