In today’s mobile world, the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas marks the only time many adult children see their parents over the course of a year. For senior parents, this is an exciting time. But, for many adult children, holiday reunions can be an alarming wake-up call.
While celebrating, children should make a concerted effort to observe distinct behavioral changes and warning signs that suggest it is time to consider lifestyle changes. Aging is challenging but can be easier when adult children have a support strategy and help their senior loved ones by providing knowledgeable senior care options.
The consensus among geriatric physicians is that most seniors should live as independently as possible as long as possible. The challenge for adult children is to know their parent’s physical, emotional and financial options and to have a well-considered plan in place when independent living is no longer practical or safe.
Warning Signs to Look for This Holiday Season
Your parents want to enjoy the holidays with you. If you do not see each other regularly, they have probably been looking forward to the holiday family reunion for months. Make sure you have reunions that are as stress-free as possible and at the time of day when your senior parents are able to enjoy you and your family. Try to avoid surprises and prepare your children for senior habits that might worry them.
While you are celebrating, be aware of warning signs that indicate more support may be needed. Usually, these warning signs fall in three general areas of impairment:
- Memory, which could include speech difficulties
- Health, which usually offers physical clues
- Condition of the home, which is evidenced by visual clues
Specific Examples of Well-Being Gone Wrong
While a general overview is helpful, there are specific examples of conditions you may notice that suggest your parents either need more support or a change of residency. These examples can include:
- Confusion about one or both parent’s medications
- Balance issues
- Loss of stamina/strength
- Carelessness about personal hygiene
- Housekeeping (is a plant in the fridge?)
Even if you last visited your parents a few months ago, you may notice pretty dramatic changes over the holidays. And, if one parent is a caregiver for a less healthy parent, things can deteriorate quickly. If you and your siblings or caregivers do not already have a support strategy, you are late to the game. But, there is hope.
It Takes a Village
If you notice significant changes and your parent’s local caregivers have not notified you of downturns, you need to make observations, have a family meeting and discuss and implement a new caregiving protocol. Many families believe that caring for senior loved ones takes a village. This is the time to consult with a local aging resource center or geriatric physician.
Try to make these objective observations as soon as possible:
- Are your parents isolated?
- Are they trending toward deeper isolation?
- Can they care for themselves?
- What is the toll on the primary parent who is the caregiver?
- How is their nutrition and hygiene?
- Does living independently present too many risks?
- Are your parents safe drivers?
- Do your parents have the right medical team?
- Who monitors their medications?
- Can your parents benefit from an in-home heath aide or do they need a residence with assisted living/memory care?
Yes, this is scary stuff. And, be careful how and when you convey your concerns to your parents. The chances are good that your parents are aware of their declining abilities and the chances are equally good that one or both have considered various options. But, do they know all their options and do your parents have a solid financial plan? Life Care Funding experts can help!
Shaping a Caregiving Team (and a Solution too!)
With adult children and their spouses both working in most families, very few have time to care for parents who may or may not reside in distant locations. Every family should already be exploring senior living and nursing home options. Medicare and Medicaid have revised their income and asset qualifications. It is a big mistake to build a plan on outdated information.
Life Care Funding offers another long-term care funding opportunity that deserves serious consideration. Policyholders can convert life insurance into a protected Long-Term Care Benefits fund, from in-home to hospice care. Policyholders typically receive 30-60% of the death benefit of their death benefit value when they convert the policy specifically to pay for long-term care. This benefit qualifies as a Medicaid spend-down, which means that they will still be eligible for that program if the money runs out. With nursing home care costing $5,000-$8,000+ per month, it is beyond the means of many people who may be otherwise financially healthy.
Conclusion About Holiday Reunions
Over the holidays, you may notice some changes in your parent’s health. What will you do about it? When you meet with your siblings, try to build a caregiving strategy that matches your siblings’ abilities with practical logistical concerns. And, choose a leader, too.
Life Care Funding can help with converting life insurance to pay for senior care. Your loved ones win, this includes your family! Let us know how we can help.