It is increasingly common to find that your aging parents are having health problems, suffering mental lapses, or just slowing down with age. People often do not follow their parents' day-to-day activities, and many live miles apart, even in different states. You should have a plan in place if a parent were to have an accident or suddenly fall ill. You may consider having someone close by check on them on a routine basis.
If the problems they are having are not getting better, your next step is to talk with your parents and any siblings. You may consider having a family meeting to discuss day-to-day operations of an aging loved one's household and finances. You should understand where your parents’ assets are, what the income sources are, and what the cash flow situation is like. This can help determine what assets are available for possible health and nursing care in the future.
One option is to suggest your parents move into your home to avoid using your parents' assets to pay for a nursing home or other facility. This can also alleviate the chance of your parents receiving inadequate care from strangers. However, the costs associated with feeding, clothing and caring for aging parents can be expensive—especially when it affects your ability to work full time because you need to be home with your parents.
If your parents' care is more than you can handle, you may consider an assisted-living arrangement. “Assisted living” is a broad term that includes a range of facilities and services designed to help seniors who cannot live independently. Depending on your parents' conditions and needs, you may consider continuing care retirement communities, retirement communities, active senior communities, nursing homes or special care facilities for conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Talk to your parents' physicians or other care providers for recommendations that might best meet your parents' needs. Finally, if you have an employee assistance program at work, contact your human resources department for help and suggestions. These decisions are never easy, but it is considerably easier before care is necessary.
William G. Lako, Jr., CFP®, is a principal at Henssler Financial, and a co-host on Atlanta's longest running, most respected financial talk radio show "Money Talks" airing Sundays at 10 a.m. on Talk 920 AM, WGKA.