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Caring for an Elderly Parent

Caring for an aging relative can be difficult, but Mary Cordova from Concierge Care Advisors says there's help available. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

As parents age, many children find themselves caring for a loved one. However, with the aging process comes a package of financial, physical and mental responsibilities. Pete talks to Mary Cordova, of Concierge Care Advisers about ways to notice if your parents need additional care, and the best ways to help them.

First, if you’re looking for signs of possible dementia in a loved one, Mary says you should look at their checkbook. “As people are aging, they really get challenged by their checkbook.” She adds that you’ll usually see items crossed out, and “a lot that just doesn’t make sense.”

Then, you should check their refrigerator. “Are they eating healthy?” Mary asks. Make sure that they’re eating meals, and that food you may have brought them isn’t still there.

Another risk factor to look out for is potential fall hazards. As people age, their balance and equilibrium may become off. Stairs can pose a challenge, or the home may not be suitable for walkers or wheelchairs.

Mary says that, if you’re looking for care for an aging loved one, you should consider all of the options, of which there are many, including: in-home care, independent care and assisted living, or adult family homes. Exploring all the options, she says, also makes it easy to pitch the idea to Mom or Dad.

If funds are limited, Mary suggests turning to an agency like Concierge Care Advisers that can help find the best solution pro bono. She also recommends exploring all available options through Veteran’s Affairs, if applicable, or Medicaid. She also suggests looking at the option of an adult family home with a stipulation in the contract that the resident would not be asked to leave for financial reasons.

In terms of pricing, Mary says if you’re considering an independent living facility, “you’re looking at between $4,500 and $5,500 per month.” Pete adds that, if the cost looks steep, consider that you can also lower the cost with the addition of veteran’s benefits, social security or Medicaid, which means that the parent wouldn’t have to dip into savings or assets.

If the parent’s home is on a reverse mortgage, however, Mary suggests going on Medicaid temporarily until the home sells, at which point you can transfer to “private funds.”

If you, like many children, would prefer to keep your parent in their home as long as possible, Mary says you should perform a check for potential dangers, for example: throw rugs to trip over; bathroom not equipped with grab bars; or stairs. She also says you should make sure they are eating regularly and that the food is healthful and nutritious. One thing to consider, however, is whether or not they will require around-the-clock care, which can be significantly more expensive than an independent living facility. “Around-the-clock care is about $15,000 per month,” Mary says.

You’ll know it’s time to contact a company like Concierge Care Advisers when “your parents are no longer making good decisions,” Mary says.

Home Matters with Pete and Rob can be heard on KIRO Radio every Saturday at 8 a.m. and Sunday at 6 a.m. or anytime at Like Home Matters on Facebook.

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