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Challenges of caring for aging parents

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9209134_sAdult children don’t want to think about it and, all too often, their parents don’t want to talk about it, however every day, hundreds of thousands of Canadians are suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar world of caring for an aging parent because they have put off planning for the inevitable.

Caring for aging parents can be overwhelming. When an elderly parent is no longer able to be fully independent or needs more help, how do you find out what you need to know to effectively care for them?  Missteps due to lack of knowledge have long lasting, expensive, and even endangering consequences.

If you are an Adult Child, dealing with a senior parent with Chronic Health issues, do you know the steps or resources to guide you and your parents as they age further?

The following are questions you need to find answers to, before a crisis happens:

  • Are you concerned that your aging parent or loved one is no longer safe in their home?
  • Can your parents stay in their home with intermittent care ?
  • Do you know what in home care options and support is provided by the Government, Alzheimers Society, the Red Cross , CCAC -Community Care Access Centers (www.ccac-ont.ca), the Arthritis  Society?
  • Do they need a retirement residence, now called “Assisted Living”, or a nursing home?
  • Do you need to sell the family home?
  • If so, do you know how much is needed for alternate accommodation including additional heath care costs?
  • What will be the financial burden of caring for an elderly loved one? Are there emergency funds in place if needed?
  • What are the legal issues surrounding handling their finances? Are appropriate Powers of Attorney and Wills in place? NOTE: Did you know if an individual has dementia or Alzheimer’s, these cannot be changed?
  • How do you organize and downsize a lifetime of “things”?
  • If you sell the family home, how do you ensure the proceeds are safe and will last?
  • How do you manage with all the doctor’s appointments and other daily issues?
  • How do you take control after years of your parents doing it all on their own?

Once issues are identified, the first step is to have a family meeting to manage the challenges of aging and work together as a family. This will help you prepare for a more certain future and understanding the full range of issues around your aging parent. It will reduce uncertainties and open up conversations that often lead to positive changes in family dynamics.

Throughout the meeting, it is important to listen. One of the biggest fears of an aging individual is losing independence and familiar surroundings.

Bringing up assisted living may be a difficult one, however initially many families are happy to help their loved one by checking up on them, making meals, helping with the bills, etc. , but as time goes on and lives get busy, this takes a toll.

If a loved one moves into an assisted living community, time can be spent actually visiting, sharing their lives and making new memories together. The change in quality of life can be impactful.

Sometimes people are reluctant to explore senior communities and learn what assisted living is really about. Often they do not know what questions to ask. You need to know all the options that are available so that when the time comes an informed choice can be made. Many facilities welcome visits and offer complimentary meals and even overnight stays.

For more tips to assist you manage the challenges of aging or to sign up for a future seminar on the topic of AGING PARENTS: The Family Survival Guide, contact Heather at heather@tridelta.ca or 416-527-2553.

Heather Holjevac is an Elder Planning Counselor and has presented seminars on the topic of AGING PARENTS: The Family Survival Guide with the Alzheimers Society and the Toronto Public Library’s -Ask the Expert Series.

Compiled by Heather Holjevac, Senior Wealth Advisor TriDelta Financial

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