Planning for Caring for Aging Parents

Planning for Caring for Aging Parents - Mother Cuppa Tea

It doesn’t seem five minutes since you thought your parents were immortal beings with all the answers and a magic touch when it came to knee scrapes, teen heart ache and life advice. And in turn your parents can't believe you are no longer that tiny baby they cared for.

Mother kissing baby's feet (B&W image) :Photo by Felipe Salgado on Unsplash

My mum came with me to the bank when I applied for my first mortgage as I honestly had no clue what I was doing or what questions to ask, but as time passes you start to realise that the people who used to care for you, your safety net, need a little caring for themselves.

For some people, that little bit of help turns into full time caring. My dad died when he was younger than I am now and sadly my much-loved stepdad who was significantly older than my mum has also left us. Now my mum lives alone, many, many miles from us, and as I watch her become frailer (although not in her mind!) I started to worry about her more and more.

So, at what point do you start planning for caring for your parents? What can you do to help make life easier and safer for them? And how do you talk to aging parents about their future plans, or talk to older parents about difficult subjects like driving and finances in later life? What steps can you take to care for aging parents now? We will answer all these questions in our guide to making an advance care plan for older parents. But where do you start?


Just as we hid things from our parents growing up (c’mon, you know you did) they frequently hide things from us. Maybe they want to protect us from the reality of their health or ageing issues. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s their own refusal to accept the inevitable.

If they don’t raise the subject of having an action plan for when things start to get too much for them, you must bite the bullet and do it yourself.  Obviously, this almost certainly will be a sensitive subject for many so have a plan of what you want to talk about in advance, choose a good time and place to raise the subject and be ready with some tactful suggestions.

So maybe invite them over for a nice cup of tea but make sure they know you would like to chat about the future “just in case.” Avoid scaring them and couch your conversation in terms of helping them live more comfortable, safer, and easier lives.

Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

Don’t imply you think they will soon die or be disabled but remind them it’s better to make plans when they are still of sound mind and able to make rational decisions. And remind them that these decisions don’t need to be actioned straight away but it would be helpful for you to know what their wishes would be when they are no longer able to communicate themselves.

Swallow Your Pride

You might think that Mum moving into your spare room is the best plan all round, but Mum might have very different ideas about her future. Don’t be offended if your parents have strong opinions of their own about when and where they might want to move, who they want managing their affairs or how they live their life -if that doesn’t present a danger to others. Which brings me to the subject of difficult decisions you might HAVE to make for a parent.

Know The Law

You cannot force someone to give up driving even if you think they should. If you are concerned about health issues affecting their driving encourage them to visit a GP to talk about how health condition might be managed to improve their hearing/sight/mobility/physical wellness.  Obviously the DVLA requires all over 70’s to renew their licence every three years so you might find your loved one makes the decision based on that requirement.

If you feel the matter can’t wait, by all means raise the subject but prepared for backlash as some people might feel humiliated, angry, upset, or outraged at the suggestion their driving is dangerous. There might also be a fear of how they will manage without a car. Before speaking to them look at local public and community transport options and assess how willing you might be to act as a taxi when required so you can reassure them and proffer options for a car free life.

If you are seriously concerned about the safety of them and others around them, you can report your concerns by writing to the DVLA who may contact the police to investigate your claims. Bear in mind this is likely to affect your relationship with that parent.

When it comes to finances and their future life you should investigate make formal arrangements to avoid any issues down the line.

Last Will & Testament paperwork on white surface:Photo by Melinda Gimpel on Unsplash

Make sure they have written a will and you know where it is. Talk about sorting out a lasting power of attorney while they are still able to make decisions - you can make them to cover health and welfare or property and financial affairs. Many people arrange both.

Don’t Forget the Everyday Stuff

If someone becomes unable to communicate or dies those left behind sometimes must turn into Miss Marple to sort out the small stuff. Encourage your parents to create a folder with details of bank accounts, insurance policies, national insurance and passport numbers and computer/phone passwords.

Get them to put in copies of car ownership paperwork, a copy of the will and any power of attorney files as well as information about the house alarm and/or safe and the location of any keys and where you might find driving licences, birth and marriage certificates. Also useful to have are details of their GP , any consultants and agencies they are involved with, plus contact details for friends and neighbours.

Get Techy

Thankfully the modern world makes caring for your parents remotely much easier. I encouraged my mum to get a smart watch which alerts me if she falls. We bought her smart display units with video capability so I can "drop in" if she's not been in touch after repeated attempts and would be able to see into her house remotely if she was unable to communicate. She can also use the units or her watch as a phone or walkie talkie if anything happened.

We use video chat and messenger apps to keep in regular contact as although loneliness can be devastating for anyone, older people are more likely to go for longer periods without seeing or speaking to someone.

Family using tablet sitting on sofa:Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash

It can be hard to acknowledge your parents are ageing and it may be hard for them to know you see it. Reassure them that you are not anticipating their death but ensuring that everything is in place for when all these preparations will be needed. Then make some lovely plans to spend time with them now, and treasure every moment.

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