Everyone ages differently and at different times. And while your dad may still be young in your mind, it’s important to notice changes in his behaviors or abilities around the house.
Are his daily tasks becoming more difficult than usual? Are you noticing any behavioral changes? Are his bills piling up? These are the types of things to pay attention to because they can signal that he needs more help than he—or you—may have realized.
According to a study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, 75% of adult children haven’t had an in-depth discussion with their aging parents about things like future living arrangements, long-term care, or estate planning. And though these may be difficult conversations to initiate, taking the next steps in his life’s journey together can be helpful for both of you.
Here are some ways you can support your aging parent:
1. Monitor his health.
Stay informed about your dad’s health. Has he had more doctor appointments than usual? Have you heard him complaining about aches and pains that weren’t mentioned a few months ago? Has he become isolated or lonely? Take note of his overall health and well-being. This may help you help him make realistic choices, such as a move to an assisted living community where he can get the support he needs. If you’re noticing any behavioral or personality changes or Dad has been diagnosed with dementia, it’s important to obtain a Power of Attorney or Health Care Power of Attorney so that you can help make decisions on his behalf.
2. Have a family talk.
First talk to Dad about his choices: It’s his life you’re discussing, after all, and his preferences always should be considered. Make sure your siblings are in on the conversation about what Dad’s future might look like. And if it’s apparent that it’s time for Dad to move from the family home, talking about his needs with loved ones may help you find the best solutions for your dad and your family.
3. Get dad’s finances in order
Before making decisions about your dad’s future plans, sit down with him and discuss his finances. You may be uncomfortable, and he may be resistant, but talking to your aging parent about finances will make things easier for both of you in the long run. You might ease into the role by offering to pay his bills and reconcile his monthly accounts for a while, then move on to review other aspects of his finances. Suggest that the two of you meet with a certified financial planner to review his situation and make important decisions together.
4. Show your support
Be there for your dad as he makes decisions about his future. The best thing you can do for him is to be supportive. If he has questions, try to find the answers for him. If he’s hesitant about change, be ready to offer options that he could consider. And If he is ready to tour a community, go along with him and ask the questions that he might miss.
Even if you experience “hiccups” along the way, keep the lines of communication open and keep trying. You may discover that supporting your dad provides an invaluable service to him as he ages—and becomes a similarly satisfying experience for you