Getting old is difficult, and caring for a parent who is entering that tender phase of old age where you have to start thinking about necessary care plans can feel almost impossible. While there is often no way around the emotions of figuring out end-of-life care, there are some things you can do with your parents or for your parents to make everyone’s lives a little bit easier. Mostly, having a clear and solid care plan in place will reduce a lot of confusion and headaches for everyone involved. If you are looking to put together a good care plan for your aging parents, here are five tips that can make the whole process easier.
The first step in putting together any plan of care is having a frank, open conversation with your parents about their wishes. This could include specifics about how they would like their remains to be treated after they pass away, certain family members they would like to be involved in their care near the end of their lives, whether or not they have a will in place, and more. Starting the planning process with a discussion may sound difficult, but it will ultimately be for the best as you will learn more about what your parents want out of their last years in life.
After you have an honest discussion about your parents’ desires for the end of their lives, you will also need to take stock of what your parents need. Do they have any health conditions that need to be taken into account? Do they have mobility issues? Are they living far from you and your family? These are the types of questions you must ponder when you think about their health care and living situation and make decisions in their best interests.
Many elderly folks have a strong will to stay in their home while they experience the end of their lives, also called “aging in place.” While this type of living has the benefit of maintaining a semblance of independence for your aging parents, it may also create issues for them, especially if they have health or mobility problems. Talk with your parents about the prospect of a nursing home or retirement community and see what they think about the idea of living in one of these places. Depending on their level of mobility and independence at their current residence, there may be transitional options for them if they are not ready to enter a nursing home.
One of the hairier choices you will need to make is what to do with your parents’ life insurance policies. Depending on the state of their health and your dependence on them, a viatical settlement could be an optimal move. Viatical settlements are agreements between individuals and third-party life insurance buyers or viatical settlement providers to sell their life insurance policies for a lump sum of cash. Depending on your parents’ age or health conditions, they may or may not be eligible for such a transaction. However, if they are eligible, a viatical settlement can provide financial flexibility for them to knock some items off their bucket list or pay for life-extending medical treatments.
Either at the end of your parents’ lives or just after they pass, it will become important for you to go through some of the items and papers at their home and save any special heirlooms and copy down old photos. Consider getting a smart photo manager that offers private online photo storage, especially for important old family photos. You can get unlimited photo storage if your parents have large swaths of pictures, and a photo manager will allow you to sync across mobile apps, computers, and import to Google Drive or Dropbox so that you can share them with far-away family members.