Caring For Your Elderly Parents: Unexpected Costs And What To Do
There comes a time when a parent becomes reliant on children for their wellbeing. This is one of the melancholic truths of life which are as unavoidable as they are natural.
Old age often comes with at least one chronic ailment which reduces the quality of life for the elderly. It also renders matters more difficult for you, as their child and a caregiver. This is usually the period when unexpected costs begin to crop up. But keep in mind that there have been many people before you who shared the same experience, and they’ve devised countless ways to make it work. Read on for some useful tips and advice to help you handle it all.
Finding an Additional Caregiver
Probably the most crucial piece of advice anyone can give you is that you should talk everything over with your parents. Even if they’re not in a state to make rational, well-informed decisions, you need to make them feel that their participation in the decision-making matters.
Yes, it’s true that this can be a bit disingenuous on your part. But it beats the alternative: elderly parents who are bitter, who shut down and feel betrayed by you. Finally, you don’t want to make them feel like they’re completely losing control of their own existence.
Now, this can be a particularly difficult feat to accomplish if the decision in question makes a financial difference. One of the most sensitive topics in that regard is the additional caregiver. It will hit your wallet hard and it might upset your aging parent immensely, especially in the beginning.
They might take it as proof of their inability to take care of themselves. That’s why it is so important to find a caregiver who will be able to make them feel comfortable and encourage positivity. Keep in mind that finding such a caregiver also comes with extra costs, especially if they have ample experience and if they’re specially qualified.
Refurbishing the Living Space
Will your parents live with you at home or will they go to a specialized facility for the elderly? Of course, most elders will prefer to stay at home, in a familiar environment, so you should definitely consider this option first.
However, the cost of a good elderly facility can easily rival the cost of home renovations, which are necessary to adjust the living space to your parent’s needs. Remodeling expenses include adding grab bars wherever possible, especially on routes to the bathroom and the kitchen.
It also includes buying bedding that can make life easier for your parents, and you might also need to add an extra bathroom just for them. The cost of such a bathroom, even if you do it frugally, can easily exceed $40,000.
This refurbishing ‘package’ will also inevitably include medical gadgets, but thankfully, you can rely on a medical alert discount for AARP members. Keep in mind that these gadgets are there to make your life easier. Their cost is almost always incomparable to the help they provide.
If your parent gets particularly sick and begins relying on you all the time, you may face a work/life juggle that you’ve never faced before.
Simply speaking, you’ll have to lose hours upon hours of work as you make sure that your parent is well taken care of. Waiting in line for a doctor’s appointment, taking your parents to therapy sessions, and filling prescriptions can turn your weeks into a blur.
You’ll hardly be able to discern where your work begins and your parent care ends. This will almost undoubtedly lead to certain issues at work that may lead to financial difficulties. So before your absence begins to present a noticeable problem, you should have a long and hard conversation with your higher-ups and the HR.
If any (or most) of the colleagues are your peers, they probably also have elderly parents that require care, so you might just get more understanding than you’d initially hope for.
The Question of Financial Safety
Absence from work combined with the costs of elder care can lead you to ‘burn through’ your financial safety net in the blink of an eye. If you live with a spouse and have adult children, you may be able to divide responsibilities and make life easier for everyone in the long run. But let’s be honest – you can’t exactly count on this.
Your spouse probably also has parents that they need to help out and your children might be too busy carving the way to their own future. If push comes to shove, you may want to accept part-time pay and benefits for a part-time involvement with your job if you can’t afford the extra caregiver.
Remember – no matter what happens, don’t quit your job altogether. It will be a severe blow to your wallet, and you need to think about your own future as well.
The twilight years of your parents don’t necessarily have to be plagued with hardship and dreadful experiences. Relationships don’t have to go sour, as long as you cultivate an atmosphere of understanding and open communication in your household.
At the end of the day, the brunt of responsibilities will fall on your shoulders. But you can also make an extra effort to develop good organizational skills and reduce the costs down to a minimum. This will help you retain the desirable quality of life for both you and your parents.