November is National Caregiving Awareness Month and if you have parents over the age of 65, it’s been reported that about 75% of them will need some type of extended care. In addition, elders over the age of 75, who have had some type of medical event, are much more likely to need care outside of their homes such as the services provided in a retirement community or assisted living facility. As your parents age, you will begin to face a number of challenges in providing for their care. Now is the time to have the discussion about the type of care needed.
Ken Dychtwald, author of the book “Age Wave,” points out that most elder care is provided by women, either wives or adult children. However, if you are one of the Baby Boomer generation, it is likely that you had fewer children than your parents. On average, Boomers had 2 children versus the average of four that their parents had. You may not even live in the same area as your parents or your siblings. Another challenge for the women who provide, or will provide care for aging parents (or in-laws) is that 80% of women are working today compared with the 38% of women who were working in the 1950s.
The first step in your decision making about the type of retirement or assisted living care that your parents may need is to consider the emotional toll that caregiving may take on you. Caregiving is one of the most difficult things that anyone can do – especially for their parents (or in-laws). Though the first thought is to provide the caregiving by yourself, you have to ask yourself if you can emotionally afford to take care of your parents. The reality is that you may have to bathe your father, possibly help toilet your mother. You may have to spend nights at your parents or you may have to drive them to doctor’s appointments or even the grocery store. You have to ask yourself if you are prepared to devote the kind of time that caregiving will take, and know that it is OK if you decide that you cannot provide the care yourself. Once you know what you can both physically and emotionally provide, you must have a conversation with your parents and the rest of the family about their needs and wishes.
That first conversation is often the hardest thing for families to do, but questions about and answers to such topics as power-of-attorney, finances, advanced directives, and end of life decision must be considered. After the family talk, it is important to seek the advice of a professional. You can talk to a tax accountant, elder-law attorney, and/or a financial planner. Then, put the plan in writing so that everyone in the family knows what your parents’ wishes are. You’ll want to be specific about the timing of your parents’ move to a retirement community. You may even take the opportunity to visit some nearby retirement or assisted living communities. It is much easier to assess a communities potential for providing the care your parents need when an immediate decision does not have to be made.
The retirement and assisted living communities of Retirement Unlimited, Inc. are a great place to start the decision process with your parents. As a family owned company with communities throughout Virginia, Retirement Unlimited, Inc. does not require an endowment or entrance fee in any of their communities. Plus, with services ranging from independent living to dementia care, you are certain to find the right level of care for your parents.