Ten steps for Adult Children to Follow After a Holiday Visit with your Aging Parents
The holiday season is here again, and for many families, it is a time spent enjoying each other’s company, catching up on each other’s lives, and celebrating. However, for an adult child who may not have seen their aging parents in a while, the visit may turn into an unexpectedly overwhelming experience. Here at Stefans Law Group, we offer Geriatric Care Management and can help you to assess your parents’ current living situation and care needs, and come up with a plan to meet these needs.
If you are an adult child visiting your parents for the holidays, the visit may open your eyes to their changing abilities and needs. Aging parents sometimes hide their declining physical or cognitive abilities from their children.
There can be several reasons why an aging parent may do this, ranging from wanting to live independently, to denial that their abilities are declining, or even an inability to recognize the challenges they are having. If you have recently visited with your aging parent and find yourself overwhelmed wondering what to do next to help them, here are ten steps to get a handle on the process:
1. Assess the situation
If the situation your parent is facing requires urgent attention, you will have less time to obtain your parents’ and/or siblings input on managing it. In an urgent situation, it is important to you make sure you have the legal authority to make decisions for your parent.
Did your parent appoint you as his/her agent in a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy? If not, can you identify the agents and get them on board to help? If these documents were not drawn up, these documents should be drawn up immediately assuming your parent has the capacity to understand and sign them. If these documents were not drawn up, then you may have to start a Guardianship process with the court. At Stefans Law Group, we can help you to determine what steps should to be taken with these documents to assist your parents in decision making.
If the situation is instead based on an ongoing chronic decline, you will have more time to get input from family members on what steps need to be taken to help your parent.
2. Prioritize the needs
How is your parent managing his/her daily activities? Based on your observations, make a list of everything that needs to be done and prioritize the list according to urgency. Distinguish between wants and needs, and what must be handled at your parent’s home or from afar.
3. Safety First
Are there any safety concerns you see? Your parent’s safety should always come first. Anything that is or could become a safety issue should be dealt with quickly.
We offer Geriatric Care Management, and can coordinate an appointment for a Geriatric Care Manager to visit your parent’s home to point out safety concerns and make recommendations on how to resolve them.
4. Prioritize your parent’s independence
One of the most difficult challenges an aging parent faces is a loss of independence. When making decisions or recommendations for a parent, prioritizing his/her independence may make the changes easier for your parent to handle, and you may be met with less resistence.
Now that you have a prioritized list of needs you’ll need to address, start organizing that list. Make a spreadsheet with at least three columns. In the first, list the needs from highest to lowest priority. In the second, write the proposed solution, if you have one. In the third, write down the next step you need to take to work toward a solution.
6. What are your resources?
Add a column to your list and fill in the resources you know you have. For example, if grocery shopping is an issue and your parent has a trusted housekeeper, perhaps you can ask the housekeeper to pick up groceries or take your parent shopping, or perhaps the grocery store offers a delivery service.
7. Make a Plan
Look at your spreadsheet and fill in any blanks left in order to create a plan. If the list is mostly complete, determine who can help you complete the tasks.
8. Build a team
Identify family, friends, neighbors, volunteers along with other trusted advisors and professionals who can help you build and execute your plan.
Communicate with your family members and parents. The more help you can get in these situations, the less overwhelming it will be for you. Additionally, the more collaboration you can have earlier on in this process, the less roadblocks you may face in the future.
10. Execute your plan!
While these steps may seem overwhelming at first, try to handle each one at a time in the prioritized order. Remember, gain support and assistance from family, professionals, and those you trust. Be mindful that the plan will most likely change over time depending on your parent’s condition and resources.
As an estate planning and elder law firm, the attorneys and staff at Stefans Law Group can help create and implement a plan for your parents to meet their needs. To schedule a consultation, contact us at (516) 692-2744. We look forward to hearing from you!