As the life cycle progresses, many adult children discover a reversal of roles occurs as parents reach old age. Caring for the elderly requires time, financial resources, and patience. Some adult children may anticipate the needs of their aging parents and begin preparing, while others suddenly burdened with the responsibilities following an incident. Below are suggestions to aid in handling care giving duties for elderly parents.

Open Communication

In any relationship, it is valuable to present each side’s expectations and requirements. This is also the opportune time to discuss financial and medical issues. When elderly parents are under the care of their adult child, it can be beneficial to sign release forms with medical providers allowing physicians to share information pertaining to care. If the aged family member has a serious condition, caretakers should ask treating doctors about the diagnosis, particularly if the prognosis could affect the living situation such as Alzheimer’s disease.  Discussions about power of attorney may be necessary depending on the mental state of the parent.

Living Conditions

Most seniors prefer to remain in their home either for reasons of independence or familiarity. Caretakers must weigh the level of required care as well as the physical environment when determining the best living arrangement. If the elderly parents are healthy, minor improvements such as handrails and a wearable alert system may be sufficient to remain at their home or live in a senior community. However, if the home has stairs, the climate is subject to inclement weather or the elderly parent becomes easily confused, living with the caretaker may be a safer option. Likewise, if a senior requires constant attention, utilizing a nursing home with a full-time medical staff may be necessary. Taking care of an elderly person while managing work and other home responsibilities can become draining. Similar to raising a child, utilizing professional services to aid in care for a senior can alleviate many duties as well as concerns.

Children who wish to take care of their elderly parents in a home setting should make adjustments for their safety. For instance, replacing bulbs with a brighter wattage, remedying slippery surfaces with nonslip precautions and removing tripping hazards can prevent an injury or accident. Although a senior may be able to ascend and descend stairs without issue, placing their bedroom on the main floor will be better long-term if difficulties occur.

Expenses for the Aging

With advances in modern medicine, individuals are living longer than ever. Unfortunately, these medical improvements are costly and caring for a senior citizen can be quite expensive. Caretakers can look into benefit programs specifically designated for covering the cost of aging. Government programs like Medicare and Medicaid can help pay for doctor visits, prescriptions and other consistent expenses. There are income assistance programs for the elderly that assist in covering expenses for medication, food and housing expenses. It is important to create a budget to handle co-pays and medical equipment as well as non-healthcare costs.

Prepare for Emergencies

Apart from accidents, the average healthy individual does not expect to incur a medical emergency. However, senior citizens are susceptible to sudden crises such as strokes and falls. In addition to hospitalization expenses, the elderly may develop permanent aftereffects like becoming paralyzed or cognitive challenges.  As a result, these emergencies can demand changes to living arrangements and medical expenses.