• Lynne Patzelt

When Your Parents Have Different Older Adult Needs

Just as your parents watched you grow over the decades, you've watched them grow older. Likewise, just as they provided for you as a child, you feel responsible for taking care of them in their golden years. However, what do you do when only one of your parents needs nursing care? These tips can help you and your older loved ones navigate their different needs for care with grace, dignity and confidence.

Talking Over Plans

Discuss with your parents how essential it is that they stay together. If they wish to remain under the same roof, does that mean one parent acts as the primary caregiver? You likely don't want your mom or dad doing most of the heavy lifting, even if you do what you can to help. By getting an idea of your parents' wants and needs, you have a better idea of the living situation that works well for everyone.

Finding the Right Older Adult Community

Work with your parents' primary care physicians to discuss their individual older adult care needs. That way, you know whether to focus your search on assisted living, independent living, nursing home care or memory care. If your parents want to keep living together but only one of them needs extra help, explore continuing care retirement communities. This comprehensive living option for older adults could offer residents apartments, duplexes, cottages, houses, clusters or townhouses.

When checking out nursing home options, knowing your loved ones' individual and specific older adult care needs also helps you know what to focus on when exploring reviews and testimonials, touring facilities, sampling meals and asking about the quality of care residents receive. Experts also recommend visiting facilities twice without calling ahead.

Paying for Care

While asking your parents about their desired living arrangement, ask them if they've saved money for nursing home care. Financial resources also play a large part in their care and which facility you move them into. To save money or fill in the gaps left by a lack of funds, help your parents look into programs such as Social Security, Medicare, veterans' and other types of benefits, and long-term care insurance.

It could make sense for the parent who does not need nursing home care to downsize to help pay for care for the other parent. You may help him or her have a yard sale and decide what to keep, donate or throw away. Downsizing could also involve selling the house if only one parent must move into a nursing home. Selling frees up funds to pay for care, but you need to ensure that you evaluate assets accurately. Calculate home equity by subtracting the amount your parents still owe on their home loan from the current market value of their home.

Staying Compassionate

It could be hard for you to think of your parents getting older and living separately, but remember to stay focused on their happiness and well-being. You must understand when to step in to help and when to step back and let them make their own decisions if they have the faculties to do so. Doing everything with a spirit of compassion and with your parents' best interests in mind can make everything easier.

No matter if one or both aging parents need help, you all have a lot to think about and a lot of decisions to make. By getting the facts on older adult care options, you can give yourself and your parents peace of mind.

Annabelle Harris is the creator of Elders.Center. Her goal is to help soon-to-be-seniors and already-seniors move gracefully into their golden years with less fear and more confidence. The site features a plethora of resources to help answer common and not-so-common questions about aging.

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