Taking Care of Elderly Loved Ones

Introduction

Senior years are supposed to be a time of peace. However, the challenges facing older individuals are profound, including the need to pay for costly medical and personal care. Coupled with these issues is the task of finding the best way to pay for all of these costs. This responsibility is thrust on your loved one when his or her ability to think clearly or remember facts can be limited.

You can help your loved one during this difficult time.

What Is Eldercare?

Eldercare involves getting the best medical and custodial care (help in performing general activities of daily living such as walking, bathing, and so on) in the most dignified and cost-effective manner for your loved one. Effective eldercare involves planning, knowledge, patience, and action. These issues may be affecting one or both or your parents, or your spouse, in-law, grandparent, former in-law, aunt or uncle, or a close friend. If you are the primary caregiver (the person who coordinates the decision making for your loved one), you face some tough personal challenges: demands on your time, increased stress and, possibly, direct financial costs. Be prepared. All this may be happening just as you are facing your own financial and personal issues, such as retirement planning, raising a family, or pursuing your own career.

If your loved one is healthy enough and wants to stay at home, there are a number of programs and services available to make this possible. Alternatively, your loved one may want to live with your family. This presents a number of challenges, and you need to make sure that all your family members understand what would be involved and support the idea before you make this decision.

Other housing options include congregate housing, board and care housing, continuing care retirement communities, and nursing homes.

You may be involved in helping your loved one find healthcare. You will need to understand the different provisions of Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the pros and cons of self-insurance. You should also be thinking about how to proceed if your loved one runs out of money, or is incapacitated, or is diagnosed as terminally ill.
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