As your mom and dad get older, it is important to keep an eye out for red flags that may signal declining health, mobility and/or cognitive function. And if you’re spending time with your parents this holiday season, now might a good time to be on the lookout.
Red flags to look out for:
- Weight Loss: This is one of the most obvious signs of poor health and/or nutrition. This may be caused by something physical like cancer or simply lacking the energy to prepare nutritious meals, or it might be something related to their mental health like depression.
- Balance and Mobility: Changes in gait, pain during movement or just not wanting to walk can be signs of joint, muscle or neurological problems. And if they are unsteady, they have a higher risk of falling which very often leads to further injury. The fear of falling can make your loved one withdraw, which leads to increased frailty and susceptibility to falls.
- Mood and Behavior: It can be difficult to see changes in mood and behavior over the phone so when visiting in person it is important to notice changes in their normal schedule or routine. Is your loved one staying active, engaging in social activities, maintaining their personal hygiene?
- Home and Environment: Be aware of changes in their environment too. Things such as a mess when they were normally tidy or unpaid bills can hint that something is amiss. Additionally, it may be wise to check the expiration dates on their medications and try to determine if they’re taking them as prescribed.
So you’ve noticed a number of possible issues? The next step is preparing for the conversation. The holidays may not be the best time for that, but instead be sure that you are collecting any necessary information that will be helpful for that conversation. It is vital to have a plan and be organized since this conversation will likely be difficult for you and for your loved one.
One aspect of that plan will be to talk about financial needs. The costs of nursing homes can exceed $100k per year. Do your parents have a plan in place in case one of them gets sick or requires care? Long-Term Care Pre-Planning Strategies can supplement Medicare or Medicaid, and can help prepare for the costs of aging before they become a concern. Other questions to consider include:
- What are your parents’ monthly expenses? Can they continue to meet their needs through guaranteed income sources as their expenses might start to increase?
- Have your parents been protecting assets through preservation, looking at long-term income strategies to meet their needs? As your parents gets older, retention of investments becomes more critical than high returns.
- Do your parents have a financial advisor or an attorney to help them create a plan?
You have options, and you don’t have to figure them out alone:
Talking to your mom and dad about their health and finances can be difficult, but you can feel relieved afterwards, knowing that your parents’ future needs can be met.
At Elder Life Group, we’ve guided thousands of people to financial confidence over the years and understand the value of having a plan in place.
To speak with an Elder Life advisor about helping your parents, contact us today.