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Tips for Helping Your Parents When One Needs Nursing Home Care

Since more than 60% of older adults live with their spouse/partner, it’s common that one needs nursing care before the other one does. As you seek to meet your parents’ needs in a way that works for both of them, consider the following four tips from Beyond the Abstracts:

Tip 1: Look at Their Budget and the Cost of Care

Knowing your parents’ budget is important in determining what they can afford in terms of care. You can enlist the help of a financial adviser or accountant, taking into consideration some of the following forms of income and expenses:

• 401(k) and pension payments

• Veterans benefits

• Long-term care insurance

• Nursing home costs

Another factor to consider is the state in which your parents live. States vary widely in how tax-friendly they are towards retirees, and nursing care can also be far more affordable in some states over others.

Tip 2: Is It Time to Sell?

Part of the conversation about nursing care should also involve a discussion about selling your parents’ home. Doing so can free up cash to pay for care, so it’s important to know how much equity your parents have in the house. This can be calculated by subtracting the amount they still owe on their mortgage from the current market value of their home.

Tip 3: Look at Their Relationship

Although many older adults wish to stay together for the rest of their days, doing so may not be feasible when care needs reach the level of nursing care, which can include the need for specialized medical attention. When one parent is ready for nursing care, a good solution to keep them together is to look into a continuing care retirement community. One parent can receive nursing care, while the other can receive the level of care they need, keeping them together.

Tip 4: Look at Their Health Care Needs

Before choosing a nursing facility or continuing care retirement community, get your parents assessed by a primary care or geriatric doctor to verify that nursing care is needed. Doing so can also help you get a better sense of your options. Would living at home still be possible with the help of a visiting or live-in nurse? Or would a move to a continuing care retirement community make more sense, given their health care needs?

Tip 5: Discuss the Changes

One parent needing to step out of a caregiver role can be a cause for anxiety and stress, both about the coming change and the unknowns involved in such a change. It’s important to keep both parents, in particular the parent stepping out of the caregiver role, involved in any changes. You can also encourage the parent not receiving nursing care that this change allows them to focus more on self-care. By acting as their spouse or partner’s advocate, they can still be involved in their care without shouldering the entire burden.

How These Tips Can Help

Changes in care can be stressful for your parents, so finding the right form of care, deciding how to pay for that care, and knowing your downsizing options can all help make the process easier and less anxiety-provoking. Armed with the right information and assistance, your parents can navigate this transition more smoothly.

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