Monday, August 19, 2013

Role Reversal

 For the Mondays in August we'll be looking at being adult children.

They were there for us all of our lives. They raised us and guided us from infancy to independence. As we get older, so do they. Age advances and many parents move from independence to dependence.  When they age, they need us just like we needed them.

Often, parents need their children just as their children are hitting their stride: raising their own children (and some times grandchildren), experiencing more responsibility at work and dealing with the realities that adulthood brings. It is at this time that our parents need us most.

There are several things to consider:

Living arrangements
 Should they stay at home, live with you or go to a skilled facility? A lot of this depends on the health of your parents. Healthy parents could get by with just a little more contact, a few more calls or visits. If they are suffering from an illness that isn't debilitating, maybe an assisted living facility or someone to come by and help them out once or twice a week would do.

If they need more help and can't stay on their own, living with you could be an option, but you have to consider your lifestyle and whether you can offer them the care they need. Caring for an aging and ailing parent is a full-time and draining tasks. Make sure you have a strong support system in place so that you can care for yourself while you are caring for them.

A nursing home could be a final alternative. If you choose to go this route, make sure to do your homework. Cost is a factor but it isn't the only one. Cleanliness, quality of care, number and type of activities are all considerations.

Money Matters
Regardless of the living arrangements, money is a factor. Do they have enough to live on? Can they afford their care? Can you? If you are in your fifties, consider a Long Term Health Care plan. A friend's mom spent over a decade with a debilitating disease. Because she had had the foresight to invest in long term care insurance, she was able to have a high level of care without bankrupting her children.

Also take some time to get familiar with Medicaid, Medicare and any pensions or retirement they might have. If you have siblings, consider pooling your money together. Any way you slice it, money will be an issue.

Mending Fences
As your parents get older, the inevitable becomes more of a reality. Taking the time to mend relationships and heal past hurts (if possible) is essential. Once it is too late, it really is too late and there are no do overs. Saying what you need to say while your parent is still here and able to hear you can make all of the difference and this is true if your parents are ailing or healthy. Don't run the risk of leaving things unsaid.

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