It is essential to bring up a parent’s aging expectations and set goals
together even though initial discussions may be uncomfortable. Often, an
exploration into a parent’s future thoughts about health, finances, and
residential plans can make the difference between reacting to a crisis or
following an established plan that can bring both the parent and their children
peace of mind. The sooner an identified caregiver begins a dialogue, the better
the outcome for all involved. 

It is common for an older parent to try and shield loved ones from some
of their harsh realities – whether financial or health-related – because they
are reluctant to accept help, embarrassed by their finances and don’t want to
be a burden, or are hiding some critical health information. Even in the best
of health circumstances an older parent’s ability to remain independent and
manage their life can be challenging. Family caregivers are essential to the experience
of aging in America and while individual care needs vary there are some general
topics to address when helping an aging parent. 


Safety issues are paramount. If there are assets and retirement plans in
place, do not allow an aging parent to become financially vulnerable. In the
most recent report released by the Department of Justice (DOJ)
more than 2 million elderly Americans were defrauded out of more than 750
million dollars in one year. Get educated and learn systems that can protect
parental assets. Physical safety must also be addressed to prevent accidental
falls in the home. Technology can be adapted into the home to have environment
lighting controls and other comforts that can keep a parent safer. Driving is
also a topic that needs to be discussed. At what point is it best to remove a
parent from behind the wheel to avoid unintended accidents that can be costly
both financially and health-wise. 

of Daily Living

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and Instrumental Activities of Daily
Living (IADLs) are the basic foundation of day to day functioning. IADLs
include chores such as managing finances, transportation, home maintenance,
shopping, and meal preparation. ADLs include eating,
bathing, getting dressed, toileting, transferring and continence. The level of
need in the described activities generally determines the sorts of care and
housing arrangements a parent, caregiver, and family must consider. 

Health and Medical

Health and
medical issues are pervasive as a parent ages. Many elder parents suffer from
chronic conditions requiring medications, management, and monitoring. A
caregiver may notice new health concerns that will need attention and routine
visits to physicians to diagnose any new medical conditions. Dementia and other
serious chronic illnesses can cause a parent to lose their ability to manage
their health decisions or oversee their medical care. A medical power of
attorney becomes necessary in the event a parent is no longer able to make
sound decisions. All of these legal and financial issues that address health
directives must be documented with the necessary legal paperwork. Legal
designations such as a will, trust, and power of attorney are also essential to
have in place. When the time becomes necessary, this documentation affords a designated
power of attorney, and medical power of attorney the right to act on a parent’s
behalf without the time-consuming need to address the courts for permission. Very
often a caregiver is assigned these legal designations. Planning for a parent’s
inevitable future decline, emergencies, and end of life care goes a long way to
helping reduce stress, hassles and sometimes expense. 


Housing issues are at the forefront of successful aging. Is a parent able
to age in place, particularly with the aid of technologies that simplify their
day to day living? If they are not, what sort of environment is best suited to
their current needs? Do they need to move in with a family member or might they
require assisted living? If so, is that financially viable? How does housing
address the parent’s quality of life? Beyond the basic needs, a caregiver and
family should want a parent to thrive, not just survive. It is essential to learn
what matters most to the parent and what they would be willing to compromise on
if the need arises. A parent’s desire for social connections, autonomy,
dignity, and purpose must be considered to ensure a positive quality of life. 


Finally, the management of family dynamics and relationships often brings
many challenges and painful emotions to process. A caregiver deals with
relationship stresses that can include physical exhaustion, financial
depletion, and emotional burnout. A caregiver is only as useful to a parent as
they are to themselves. While setting boundaries can be difficult, establishing
frameworks that designate acceptable norms are healthy for all involved. A
caregiver who puts their well being in jeopardy will also affect their ability
to care for a parent. Some strategies for wellness in a caregiver’s life
include: joining a support group, asking family members for help, learning to
say no when needs outside established boundaries arise, and allotting time for

There is much to consider. Planning can become complicated as human emotions and relationships are involved when setting forth caregiving expectations and parent aging plans. We help families navigate the aging process and plan for how to find and access appropriate care.  Contact our office in Lebanon, TN by calling 615-444-3568 to discuss how we can help you with planning for yourself or your loved one.