When we are young, our parents take care of us. From the time we are mere babes, they wash us, feed us, clothe us, and give us the love and nurturing that we need to grow up into adults. Even as young adults, our parents are often right there to help us get back up if we fall down.
As our parents age, there may become a time where we have to return those favors, and care for them. For many, this will likely mean an independent living arrangement of some sort that may eventually become a full nursing home situation. Not only can that transition be a very expensive one, but it can also be a very emotional one. While I’m not sure that there is any way to prepare for the emotional toll caring for your parents brings, you can prepare for the financial toll it brings. We’re financially minded folks, after all, and believe in preparation for all financial burdens.
If you’ve ever become a parent, you likely remember the months leading up to the first childs’ birth. Baby showers, shopping trips, and plenty of DIY crib and nursery work. People come out of the woodwork to give you things that “every baby needs” or to give you advice on how to deal with “fussy babies.” All of that serves one real purpose. To prepare us for the coming of a dependent child. But, we don’t have any elderly showers. And we don’t usually know even a month or two in advance to do any shopping or DIY projects when our parents are suddenly in our care. In most cases, we can’t be totally prepared. But, there’s no reason that we should be totally caught off-guard.
How do you prepare for the long term care of a parent?
In a way, it’s not that much different from preparing for any life changing event. There are certain things that we can do ahead of time to try and make any necessary transitions as easy as possible.
Know the possible costs.
There are plenty of ways to find the costs. Personally, I’d start with something like the tool below. The costs are going to vary some based on your city and whether you plan on having your parents live in a facility or in your home, but you can get a really close estimate from something like that.
If you think that your parents will need you sooner rather than later, you’ll likely want as accurate of an estimate as possible. Do your research on the facilities in your area, and then call a few of them to get an idea of how much it the costs will be.
Knowing the costs of long term care aren’t the only concern, however. Knowing your parents financial situation, and how they feel about the options they may have is something that you need to be concerned about. For instance, my dad has always said that when it comes time for him to move into a nursing home, he’d rather we just drove him out into the mountains and shot him. That’s an extreme example. A true one, but extreme just the same. But, if you really care about your parents, and want what’s best for them, that has to include what their wishes are as well.
Your parents financial situation can sometimes be a touchy subject as well. It’s something you’ll need to know, though. Someone has to pay for the care, and if your parents aren’t financially stable enough to do so, it’s up to you and any siblings to figure it out. Know what your parents finances look like ahead of time. If there’s any question about whether your parents are getting close to needing care, get involved and get it figured out.
I’m not an expert on the subject. But, as my parents age, and as my friends’ parents age, it’s a topic that is increasingly coming up in my social circles. I do know enough to know that it can get complicated. I’ve seen it get complicated. I’d love to hear from any of you out there who have been through this process and have stories to share with us. Sometimes that’s the best way to learn about something. So, share your stories in the comments below!