Tips on Caring for Your Elderly Parents
Age creeps up on you fast, and it seems to creep up on your parents faster. With nursing home expenses increasing all the time, more and more families are opting to have their parents move in with them for at-home care. This decision can be a big adjustment for everyone involved and families who do not prepare for the change might face additional stress when the time comes.
Here are some tips to help you get ready for your parents to move back in:
1. Finances First
This is where it gets tricky. At this point it has been decided that your parents are moving in with you, so when it comes to covering the extra costs it can be difficult to figure out how much siblings — if you have them — should pay. Even if you do not have siblings you should consider how much your parents should contribute. Financial considerations are not an issue for some families, but for those that need to stick to a budget, covering additional expenditures can be a struggle. Here are some things that you may need to think about:
- Will you need to pay for a home health care worker or a visiting nurse?
- Home renovations might be necessary.
- You need to figure out driving arrangements if your parent is unable to provide transportation.
- If you are eligible for tax deductions or breaks, do you adjust how much money other family members should contribute?
One thing that could be slightly awkward to suggest but could turn into a big help is hiring an elder law attorney to help set up a plan that outlining the various financial situations that could arise. This could allow you to make quick decisions with minimal debate when necessary. An elder law attorney could also point out financial costs that you and your family might not have thought of. Attorneys will range in price and billing methods so make sure you discuss this with multiple attorneys before you settle on one.
2. Prepare your Home
Depending on the health of your parents you may have to make extra renovations in the future, but first and foremost, you want to set up a room for them. If you are building an addition or just converting a room make sure you consider future accessibility needs. Even healthy elderly parents may have trouble walking up stairs after a few years and those in wheelchairs will need wider halls and doorways to get around. Other things to think about are bathrooms: Make sure you have things like no-slip rugs and grab handles installed for safety. Also, be prepared to share your home. Merely setting up a nice bedroom is not enough. Make sure everywhere else in your home is accessible so your parents can feel as independent as possible while staying safe.
3. Connect to the Neighborhood
It may have been a while since you've moved to a new, unfamiliar area. You need to remember that moving at any age can be tough, especially once you are older. If your parents or parent moved from a completely different area they could feel isolated and alone. Depending on their health, it can be hard to keep your parents social and active in the community, and you also don't want to push them too much. Still, it can be very helpful to find different community events geared towards elderly people so your parents can get acquainted with others in your neighborhood and possibly make some new friends.
4. Look Into Tax Breaks
As mentioned before, having your parents move in with you is sometimes a stressful, expensive change. Luckily, there are tax break options to help your family provide for one another. To understand what you might be eligible for and find out more information it is beneficial to reference Publication 501: Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information for use in preparing 2009 returns. You can also fill out a form in 2010 to declare multiple support if you claim 50% of living expenses for an elderly dependent.
When a parent is aging and becoming less independent it can strain a family emotionally. With some proper planning — and if needed, professional consultation — this change can be a smooth adjustment for both your family and your bank account.