As the life expectancy across the nation continues to rise (79 years old in Maryland and climbing higher every year), we will soon have more older adults in this country than ever before. For these aging adults, it can be difficult to accept the new limitations that come with increasing age. For the adult children of these aging adults, it can be just as difficult to have conversations with their parents around the need for long-term care planning. And even after having these difficult conversations, some aging adults may refuse elder care, leaving many adult children to ask the question – how do I protect my elderly parents at home? This is often referred to as aging in place.
What is Long Term Care Planning?
Long-term care includes a variety of elder care services designed to help an individual live as independently and safely as possible when they can no longer perform everyday activities themselves – getting dressed, making meals, driving, etc. – as the result of injury, illness, or age. Long-term care planning is simply thinking ahead and strategizing for these inevitable needs.
At some point in our lives, about 60 percent of us will require some form of long-term care. However, it is almost impossible to predict if and when the need will arise, which is why advanced planning is so important. But what happens when an aging adult refuses to leave their home? What options do their adult children have to protect their elderly parents at home?
How Do I Protect My Elderly Parents at Home (Aging in Place)
For many aging adults, the thought of moving to an assisted living facility or a nursing home/long-term care facility and the loss of independence is incredibly scary. For these individuals, staying at home (aging in place) is their preferred choice. In fact, according to AginginPlace.org, nine out of 10 adults prefer to age in place. “Many are choosing to stay in their homes and age in place for as long as possible to avoid moving to senior-care communities,” writes Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D., the National Aging in Place Council. Still, adult children need to be assured that their parents are in good hands, which is why we often hear the question – how do I protect my elderly parents at home? And the truth is that there are several options available to do just that,
- Those choosing to age in place will need to think strategically about Daily Care (bathing, dressing, grooming, using the toilet, eating, moving around, etc.). Options include in-home care (companion care), hiring a live-in nurse, employing home healthcare aides, or enlisting the unpaid support of family or friends. There are also adult daycares available to assist with care during the day.
- Aging in place can be expensive, so it’s important to Smartly Manage Money. But for some aging adults, paying bills on time, navigating health insurance forms, and keeping up with finances can be difficult. So, it can be wise to enlist help. Options include asking a trusted friend or family member for assistance, hiring a financial advisor or accountant, a daily money manager, and/or employing a geriatric care manager. Just make sure you get the referral from a trustworthy source.
- For elderly parents at home it is incredibly important to consider Mobility Issues. “As your mobility diminishes, what home modifications and changes would be essential to ensure accessibility and safety?” asks Dr. Rossetti. Perhaps a walker can help, or an electric chair or scooter. What about stairs? Will your parents need a lift? Some of these devices may be covered by Medicare. But either way, it is critical to think through mobility needs and how they may change in the future.
- Will the house where you are living sustain your independence for years to come?” asks Dr. Rossetti. “Could you come home after a hospital visit to recover from surgery or illness, or would you need to go to a rehabilitation or nursing facility?” Similar to mobility issues, a few Home Improvements could help increase comfort and safety. Consider things like a ramp at the front door, grab bars in the tub or shower, non-skid floors, etc. For a full list of home improvement recommendations, read Dr. Rossetti’s article, “A Home to Support Aging in Place.”
How to Plan Ahead to Age in Place
Trying to plan for future needs can be incredibly difficult. You never truly know how exactly your parent’s needs may change. However, as the old saying goes, it’s better to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
- Step 1: Think about what they may need in the future. If your parents are determined to age in place, it’s important to think through every possible need and plan accordingly.
- Step 2: Talk to your parent’s healthcare professionals about any medical conditions they may have and how those conditions may affect them down the road.
- Step 3: Discuss future needs with your parents, as well as any other stakeholders, such as your other siblings; your aunts and uncles; your parent’s neighbors, friends, caregivers, and even their spiritual adviser.
- Step 4: Talk to an Elder Law Attorney. It can be incredibly beneficial to work with an attorney specializing in elder law planning – estate planning, disability and long term care, retirement planning, asset protection in the Medicaid context, medical assistance, advanced medical directives, guardianship, trusts, and much more. Your attorney should be able to not only address your legal needs, but also give you peace of mind.
Still Wondering, “How Do I Protect My Elderly Parents at Home?” PathFinder Law Group Can Help!
You can trust PathFinder Law Group, an estate planning law firm based in Towson, Maryland specializing in Elder Law Planning. Our team provides legal guidance that comes from the heart and our solutions are tailored to fit your individual needs. Our team can assist with all aspects of elder law and estate planning, including: Estate Planning Documents, Long-Term Planning, Retirement Planning, Assisted Living & Nursing Home Care, Asset Protection & Preservation, Guardianship, Last Will & Testament, Power of Attorney (to address financial control issues), Advance Medical Directive (to help with health care decisions), Medicaid & Medical Assistance, Trusts, and Probate.
To contact PathFinder Law Group about your Elder Law Planning needs, please complete our Contact Us form, call (443) 579-4529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to guide you through life’s milestones in a way that is compassionate and reassuring.
- Acosta, Kim. “18 Signs Your Aging Parent Needs Help.” A Place for Mom, 22 Mar. 2020, www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/parents-need-help.
- Acosta, Kim. “What to Do When Elderly Parents Refuse Help.” A Place for Mom, 3 July 2021, www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/parents-wont-listen.
- “The US Population Is Aging.” Urban Institute, 3 Apr. 2015, www.urban.org/policy-centers/cross-center-initiatives/program-retirement-policy/projects/data-warehouse/what-future-holds/us-population-aging.