If you’re in the midst of trying to care for aging parents while still raising your children at home, you can easily become overwhelmed. You’re literally sandwiched between two pivotal responsibilities, caring for everyone at once, and trying to find time for yourself in between. You have reached what experts call the “sandwich generation.”
There was a time when an aging parent would simply move into an adult child’s home, but the demands of today’s world have made this approach problematic, especially when parents might require a more formal level of care. So instead of bringing mom or dad home, you’re now responsible for making decisions about your loved one’s care, a difficult and uncertain task if you’re unsure about what choices are available.
It’s not uncommon to feel stress, guilt, frustration, pain, confusion, anger and fear of the future. You may even experience an impact on your own productivity at work as a result. It’s important to feel a high level of satisfaction with the health care choice you ultimately make on behalf of your aging parent, so know that there are resources to help.
Start now with these expert tips.
Have an “empowering” conversation as soon as possible.
Speak with your parents about their wishes regarding long-term care and who will be able to make decisions on their behalf in the event of incapacity. Address these issues early and openly so you can then create legal documents to reflect your parents’ wishes. The aim is to empower them and help them maintain their independence, as we have done with our children. But be gentle. It’s harder to build trust if you move into their life like a bull in a china shop and try to take over.
Have an estate plan created for your parents.
Ensuring your parents receive proper care can be extraordinarily difficult without the help of legal documents. What you learned from the empowering conversation provides a foundation for the creation of effective legal documents that express and protect your parents’ wishes.
Determine their needed level of care.
A dizzying array of options are available, from in-home care services, independent living facilities, group homes, and congregate care facilities to assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Understand precisely what is available so that you can choose the option best suited to your parents’ specific needs.
Determine how to pay for long-term care before it’s needed.
Long-term care is expensive. While costs vary based upon where you live and the level of care needed, the average cost for a private room in Michigan is $9,125 per month. Planning in advance for the possibility of needing long-term care can protect your parents’ hard-earned assets — as well as your own — against the ever-rising costs of such care. It is also possible to obtain assistance from various sources to cover the cost of in-home care, assisted living care and nursing home care.
Recognize the role of the elder law attorney.
A qualified, experienced elder law attorney can help you with all of the areas mentioned here. Elder law encompasses a wide range of practice areas, including estate planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, asset protection and more. The best elder law attorneys take a holistic approach, one that addresses the financial, medical, legal and emotional needs of elders and the people who love them.
For example, many adult children find it extremely difficult to begin the empowering conversation with their parents. How do you break the ice and avoid offending your parents? What do you say if your parents seem unwilling to even discuss the options available for long-term care, let alone how to pay for it? An elder law attorney can provide invaluable guidance in this regard, as well as help you understand the options available for care, where to find that care and how to manage its cost.
Attorney Esther Acosta is the founder of Acosta Law Firm, PLLC, where she focuses on elder law, estate planning, Medicaid planning and asset protection. Personable, thoughtful, compassionate and extremely knowledgeable, Esther listens closely to the needs of each client — because every person’s story is unique — and helps them to execute a well-thought-out, customized plan.
Learn more by visiting acostaestatelaw.com.