There are many reasons for adult children to become concerned about their aging parents. Finances, health and their general well-being concern children who are not living with their aging parents. However, you can help your aging parents enjoy their senior years. Here are 5 tips for helping your aging parents:
- Get a first-hand account – It’s important to see what you parents are dealing with firsthand. To that end, you need to visit them, even if you live close by, to get a real sense of their challenges and how the household is being managed. You should be mentally prepared to talk about money, health and any other issue of concern, no matter how hard that may be for members of your family to discuss. Broach delicate subjects by sharing a related story of your own or a story about one of your friend’s parents. It is critically important to take the time to have an open and honest discussion about any concerns that you might have.
- Red flags – Managing their finances is one of the major problems many elderly people face. Ask for your parent’s permission and assistance in examine his or her checkbook, bank statements, credit-card statements and canceled checks. Look for inappropriate or duplicate payments and a failure to keep track of deposits and expenditures. Numerous transfers from savings to checking, payments to home-shopping networks, sweepstakes or other contests, unusually large charitable donations or payments to a person unknown to you and evidence of high credit-card debt are all red flags. Disconnect or collections notices are also signs there’s a financial problem, which can give you insight into how your parents are managing many aspects of their life, including their finances.
- Potential problems and emergencies – If it’s obvious that your parent cannot cover his or her expenses, help them apply to government programs for older Americans on low or fixed incomes. If your parent is showing signs of a health problem, getting immediate medical treatment can improve the outcome. Whatever is done needs to be done right away.
- The big picture – Many senior citizens with financial or health problems are unaware of their options. If your parents own a home, they could sell it, move into more modest accommodations and have cash in hand without owing any capital gains taxes. If your aging parent is showing signs of dementia, incontinence or diabetes, there are treatment options that will improve their quality of life while controlling the issue. However, since many senior citizens are not aware of their options, presenting them with choices can be helpful.
- Get necessary help – There are programs that can step in and deal with the challenges that the elderly face so educating yourself on available resources for your senior citizen parents is crucial to your being able to help them. From financial and tax help to managing daily living, there are organizations that can provide help for a low fee or free. If your parents are financially stable but face health challenges, in-home care, physically therapists and other health professionals can be called on to assist. A quick search online can guide you to available resources. You might also consider checking with community resources for seniors, senior centers, hospitals and even churches, for additional information.