Trying to take care of aging parents is something that you will have to plan for. Sure, the idea of nobly stepping in at a moment’s notice is a good thing, but this is the real world, where there are children and pets and jobs and lifestyles that need to be accounted for as well. In order to make sure that you can really give your aging parents the space and consideration they need to thrive, you will need to make sure that your lifestyle can handle the change.

First and foremost, if you have made the decision to take care of sick parents, you are going to experience some changes at work. Some people cannot hold a full time job and take care of an elderly parent at the same time. There are federal laws that allow for complete leaves of absences to be taken if you utterly needed to do that, but this would mean that you’re going to be on unpaid leave. You will not have that paycheck coming in like clockwork. So you will need to look at other sources of income. Sometimes if your elderly parents qualify for govenrment assistance you can receive money in order to take care of them. That’s something that tends to get overlooked, but it’s an excellent way to support your parents while not having to wonder how to put food on the table.

If your parents don’t need that much extra help, you should go ahead and keep your full time job. This will let you have extra money set aside so if you did need to care for them fully, you could do that.

It’s an important note here that if you really want to make sure that your parents are looked after, you need to know the extent of the care that they’re going to need. As much as you love your parents, you are probably not a nurse or a doctor. This means that if they need advanced levels of care, you’re actually hurting them by keeping them at home with you or even driving to their home.

Your budget should include all of the expenses that increase because you’re taking care of them. If you decide to move your parents into your house, you will need to account for the rise in utilities as well as the rise in food costs. You will need to also think about home repairs that need to be done. When you are taking care of people that cannot take care of themselves, anything that needs to be repaired is actually something that could cause injury to your parents. This will mean taking care of the problem rather than sitting and letting it fester longer.

Your budget has to be a priority, including your emergency fund. You just never know when emergencies are going to take place — after all, that’s why they call them emergencies. However, just because the world is uncertain doesn’t mean that you should be able to just sit back and not do anything. Building your emergency fund is so important because your parents are going to be counting on you. If they could count on themselves, they would certainly be doing so.

There comes a point where you have to also be ready to move them into advanced care. Yes, we mentioned this earlier but it does bear repeating. You will want to talk about all of these things up front while your parents are still feeling pretty healthy. Just because there is a negative view of nursing care facilities doesn’t mean that you have to share that view. Research and find ones in your area that are run with compassion and attention to detail. Don’t throw “throw them in the home” — take the time to make sure that they will be well taken care of. That’s the real path to taking care of your parents for the long haul!

By Jasmina