1. Know what your retirement benefits include and what your options are. Many of us don’t have retirement benefits from our employers these days, but those who worked in the Military or government, and in large corporations still may. Make sure you understand exactly what you are getting and are entitled to receive. Were you a veteran, or was your spouse a veteran? Medicare can be confusing, but there are professionals to talk with who can help you understand how your benefits work.
Think of all of your options and then, sit down with financial planners, attorneys, and insurance professionals to fill in the gaps. Do you have long-term health insurance, or would you benefit from a reverse mortgage? Maybe you need some estate planning. Make appointments and talk it out. The more knowledgeable you are about your options, the fewer big surprises you will have later.
A few years ago, I was on the phone with my father, I asked him whether or not he had long-term care insurance. He told me that he didn’t need Long-term health insurance because it was part of his retirement package from the state of Virginia. Now, years later, he is in nursing care and does not have long-term health coverage. He did not research what his benefits were going to be, and now, of course, he doesn’t qualify.
2. Automate your finances. Most of us have our income checks directly deposited into our checking accounts, but what about our bills? Automating bill payment is a good idea in case you aren’t home that often. Many of us start taking more vacations once we are retired. Having our bills paid automatically, and receiving them electronically, is a good way to stay current on our payments. It also lessens the amount of sensitive mail that we might receive in our mailboxes. This manner of bill paying is also good in the rare chance we end up in the hospital unexpectedly for a few days.
3. Think about your legacy. What do you enjoy doing? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to say about you at your 100th birthday party? What are you passionate about? If you enjoy knitting, knit a blanket for each grandchild. If you are passionate about helping children, then volunteer for an organization that you believe in or leave something behind to help the cause. Maybe you are the family genealogist. Research your family tree and leave something wonderful behind for your loved ones.
4. Gather relevant information and keep it in a safe place. Make sure that you have all of your current medications listed, doctor’s contact information, essential health information (allergies, pharmacy, etc.) together in a safe place. You might also want to include copies of car and house keys. You should have important documents in one place (POA, insurance information, living will) so they are easy to access if needed. If you would like a checklist of health information to keep handy, opt into our website to receive one.
Sign #3 Your Elderly Parents Might Need Help
Sign #3: Investigating the kitchen
Check the kitchen out thoroughly. First, glance around the kitchen and look at the overall condition. Is it cluttered more than normal? How clean is the kitchen? Look for changes in how an aging parent is keeping up the kitchen. My Dad has always been a “not so good” housekeeper. So, I knew that I would not think his kitchen was immaculate even on a good day. I noticed that his counters had burn marks and his “clean” dishes wasn’t very clean. These observations were new. Make sure you are using your loved one’s standards—not necessarily your own.
Next, take a deep breath in and see how the kitchen smells. Does it smell like garbage or food? Look at the trashcan to see if there is a lot of old food in it. You might be surprised when you don’t see any food in it, but instead a lot of boxes and cans. This is a sign that your parent may not be eating properly or enough. Now, look in the pantry and refrigerator. Do you see plenty of food, but the expiration dates are from last year? My Dad had tons of outdated cans of food and old cereal. He used to go to Sam’s Wholesale and stock up. He would continue to eat these until they ran out. I’m not even sure if he knew they expired! If your parents are eating a lot of processed, frozen, or canned foods, or you notice burned curtains and counters, maybe it’s time for someone to come cook for them a few times a week. If the kitchen isn’t clean (by their normal standards), check the rest of the house. It could be time to bring in someone to clean for them.