Without the care of our parents, we would never grow into the adults we are today. What happens when those roles reverse though? As parents age, it may become your duty to take care of them instead.
Taking care of aging parents is slowly becoming a cultural norm; a 2015 report from the AARP found that an estimated 34.2 million Americans were providing unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the past 12 months.
Balancing the challenges of being a caregiver can be difficult. Here are a few of the things to consider before caring for aging parents.
What are the career implications?
Working Americans have lost an estimated $3 trillion in wages due to the unpaid costs of caregiving. Being a senior caregiver often means stepping away from work, whether for several hours a week or in entirety.
It’s important to consider the long-term implications for cutting back or quitting from your career. This can include:
- Would you be able to get back into your industry with a gap on your resume?
- Would your skillset be just as relevant without any further training?
- Can you still effectively accomplish your job while working fewer hours?
- How will your employer react to you asking for fewer hours or to resign?
- How does this impact your own retirement plan?
What about the cost?
Not only are you losing money you could be gaining from your career, you’re also losing money from any benefits you may have. If you previously received insurance through your job, that may come out of pocket now. Not contributing to Social Security or a 401k can mean thousands of dollars lost in future retirement investments.
You may not have an income but you’ll still have things that must be paid. Here’s a few things to consider:
- What does your caregiving budget look like?
- Are you able to fund everything your parents currently need?
- If your parents acquire more needs as they age, are you prepared?
- Do you know about their available insurance options?
- What adjustments need to be made so your parents can age in place?
What about emotional needs?
Taking care of someone is taxing. Many caregivers have no preparation to take care of someone and may get thrust into the role after a fall, stroke or other medical emergency. As a result, caregivers can often experience a great deal of stress, frustration, and sadness.
Taking care of yourself as a caregiver sounds counterintuitive but is absolutely necessary. Caregivers are less likely to engage in self-care and should take note of their own concerns.
You should also be careful to still respect your parents’ autonomy. They may be very used to feeling in control and will always want to be your parent. Stepping into a role where they’re being taken care of instead of being the caregiver can be challenging, so respect this transition while still helping them to maintain a level of health.
Do you have the relevant forms?
As your parents age it’s important to know that you have the correct forms to take care of their medical needs. If you don’t have these forms it may be almost impossible to help them take control of their care.
Some of these forms include:
- HIPAA authorization. This short form allows you to access your parents’ medical records. If this form is not filled out, doctors are not allowed to discuss in detail any medical treatment that your parents are receiving.
- Advance directives. This document express what kind of end-of-life care your parents would like to receive, including whether they would like to be resuscitated or put on a feeding tube. This document also includes information regarding choosing a health care agent to make medical decisions on your behalf.
When is it time to ask for help?
It can be difficult to ask for help when taking care of someone else, especially someone who cared for you for a portion of your life. However, you have to be able to measure your own needs. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, it’s impossible to be a full-time caregiver for another person. Reaching out to others can help take off some of this burden and can help you help others.
When it’s time to ask for help, contact Culpepper Place.
We can help to provide a safe and enjoyable home for your parents as they age with all the amenities they desire.