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Tackling The Elderly Parent Dilemma

Tackling The Elderly Parent Dilemma

For adult children, addressing the needs of an aging parent can be a sensitive and challenging task. To determine your parent's physical, mental, environmental, social, and financial situation, you can either conduct an assessment on your own or with the help of a professional. Then, work with your parent to develop strategies to lessen risks and keep their autonomy for as long as possible.

Desire and Need for Intervention
While well-meaning, an adult child's intervention can be threatening if the parent perceives the child as stripping away their autonomy. If you notice changes and have safety concerns, your parent probably does need help. These situations are complicated from a medical and eldercare perspective and are associated with difficult emotions for both parents and adult children. Consider the following questions to help assess your parent's needs:

Good health is essential for living a long and happy life. Achieving and maintaining a satisfactory physical and mental health level is vital for overall well-being.

  • Can your parent manage the following tasks independently: showering, getting dressed, using the phone, ambulating, ascending stairs, cooking, tidying, and driving?
  • If applicable, can your parent care for their pets as needed?
  • Are there any issues with incontinence, changes in weight, fractures, walking instability, dental problems, or something else?
  • Do you observe mood changes, memory lapses, bewilderment, or signs of sadness in your parent?
  • Are they less interested in the things that used to fill their days, like social interactions and hobbies?
  • Is your parent adhering to their prescribed medication regimen?

An elderly parent is likely more susceptible to accidents and injuries, as well as safety hazards online or knocking on the door. Answer the following questions to uncover key measures to create a safe environment for them and their pets. 

  • What is the extent of your parent's mobility in the home? Are they reliant on walkers, canes, or other aides like bathroom grab bars?
  • Can your parent manage the following tasks independently: showering, getting dressed, using the phone, ambulating, ascending stairs, cooking, tidying, and driving?
  • If applicable, can your parent care for their pets as needed?
  • Does the home have security measures such as smoke detectors, bars for support, and non-slip flooring?
  • Does your parent know how to guard against any fraudsters or con artists?

Social Life

Socializing is an integral component of our lives, and it is essential for our overall well-being, especially as we get older. It's important to stay connected with friends and family to maintain a healthy mindset. These questions will help determine if your parent living at home alone is too isolating.

  • Is it easy for your parent to stay in contact with loved ones?
  • Does your parent frequently keep in touch with others or mingle socially?
  • Is your parent near relatives that they meet with regularly?
  • Has your parent's appearance stayed consistent, or do they need help grooming? 
  • Are their clothes presentable and clean?

If your parent does not feel good about their appearance, they may withdraw socially. Maintaining hygiene standards is essential for staying connected. 

Money is a sensitive subject, and if your parent has yet to disclose how much they have, there is no way to know if they can afford the care they may need. Some key questions that you might ask yourself to help determine if they need financial assistance are: 

  • Are your parents still capable of paying their bills? 
  • Has your parent complained about how much everything costs? That might be an opportunity to ask about their income and assets to make sure they have enough financial resources to cover their needs and, if not, introduce the subject of social services to help with costs. 
  • Are you worried about scammers or financial abuse? 
  • Have they completed estate planning documents, including wills and powers of attorney? Is your parent in possession of those, and are they easily accessible?
  • Are you aware of the whereabouts of the details of insurance and financial accounts?

The Bottom Line
With proper care and respect, talking with your parent about your concerns can open up a conversation that will bolster family ties. However, many older adults resist accepting help. Your mom or dad may refuse to give up independence regardless of the need for safety, health, social, or financial reasons. Do your best to respect their wishes while making suggestions for small changes over time. A gradual transition is always better than an abrupt change in an emergency situation. However, if your parent refuses assistance, you may need advice from a geriatric care manager or other professional. 

Services offered through Hurlow Wealth Management Group, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Hurlow Wealth Management Group, Inc. does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Hurlow Wealth Management Group, Inc. and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Hurlow Wealth Management Group, Inc. unless a client service agreement is in place.
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