It can be disheartening for everyone involved when adult children have to start worrying about caring for their parents. With people who were part of the Baby Boomer generation now entering their senior years, more and more families will need to discuss these issues.
While more than half of people over the age of 75 in America now live alone, it’s important to note that 1.5 million live in nursing home facilities. Regardless of where the elderly live, however, it’s crucial for adult children to understand how to protect their parents’ rights.
1. Obtain Trusted Power of Attorney
There have been far too many cases in the news where people have taken the elderly into their homes just so they could rob them of all of their lifetime savings and Social Security checks. This is why it’s imperative to help an elderly parent decide on and assign a power of attorney before making any long-term care decisions. This will ensure that a trusted person is able to protect their rights.
2. Apply For Government Assistance
It’s important to understand that government assistance programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, will often cover some, if not all, of the costs of home care services. Many elderly people would rather stay in their homes than go into a nursing home, but this isn’t always completely safe. Luckily, there are home care providers out there who not only offer lower prices than nursing homes, but are also often covered by government assistance programs.
3. Recognize Signs of Abuse
Just like everyone else, the elderly have the right to be protected from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, older people are sometimes too embarrassed or afraid to report abuse. This means that adult children should watch for unexplained bruises, scars, welts, wrist sprains, and broken bones. Properly vetting a nursing home in advance or simply using home care providers can help reduce the likelihood of the elderly suffering at the hands of tormentors.
Monitor Medical Care
Despite pledging a solemn oath to do no harm, physicians violate this creed everyday, and senior citizens are among their most vulnerable victims. All elderly people have the right to reliable medical care, without falling prey to fraudulent health care providers. An adult child or power of attorney who notices duplicate medical billings, inadequate medical care, or charges for procedures that were never performed should immediately look into the matter.
5. Observe Deteriorating Behavior
Sadly, there may come a time when the neglect and injuries an elderly parent suffers are self-inflicted. At that point it may be time to take certain rights away from them. If an adult child notices telltale signs that their parent can no longer take care of themselves (i.e. no food in the home, a lack of personal hygiene, and unexplained injuries) they may have to oversee a change in guardianship and custodial rights for their parent.
In cases where their health is at risk, this even holds true when the parent doesn’t agree with the decision. This could mean anything from hiring a home care provider to having the parent put into a nursing home. Regardless of the specific decision, it’s simply important to make one.
Having an elderly parent can become difficult, but it’s essential to realize that the whole situation is likely far more painful and frustrating for them. This is why it’s so important to stand by them and ensure that their legal rights are protected at all times. Tragically, the fact that half of elderly Americans over the age of 75 live alone shows a culture that is forgetting some of its most vulnerable and yet most valuable citizens.
Writer and aging baby boomer LaGeris Underwood Bell knows the emotional toll of taking care of an aged relative. She hopes this article will bolster the strength of those so tasked and that their senior charges will benefit from home care services where they are available.