Growing older brings about exciting opportunities and changes: going to college, getting married, having children, building a career and achieving financial stability.
But what about really growing old? The kind of old that means gaining wrinkles instead of work experience. The kind of old that means not getting around easily but still wanting independence or thinking about when to leave your home for a place that’s more fitting for your growing needs as you age.
This is the kind of old we don’t always think about until it starts happening to those we love — like our parents.
If you have aging parents, one of the most crucial topics to face is their long-term care options. It’s important to not only consider the implications on your life but the happiness of your parents as well.
Here are six things aging parents want you to know
They want to be close to family
As your parent ages, friends, siblings and other relatives may have already passed on and all they have left are children and grandchildren, so it’s important to try to keep the family together. They want to live normally and around those that love them most, but figuring out the best situation may be challenging.
They want your help
Aging parents don’t want to be scrutinized over every small thing, but help is still appreciated when needed. According to a survey by the American Association of Retired Persons, “nearly 2 in 10 Americans aged 70 and older say they either can’t live independently and accomplish daily tasks without assistance from caregivers or community resources or find it difficult to do so.”
Assisted living centers and retirement homes might fit your family’s needs but at the price of taking your parents further away from family. They will also have yearly fees.
According to the National Home Builders Association, retirement home fees could cost nearly $60,000 a year, yet paying to “widen the bathroom door, put in safety bars and add a roll-in shower would typically cost about $6,000 to $8,000.” These small additions are much cheaper in the long-run and could drastically improve your parents’ ability to function day-to-day.
They want independence
Though they like to be close to family, your parents might not want to be living under the same roof. According to AARP, 90 percent of seniors want to and plan to live unassisted for the next 5 to 10 years, referred to as “aging in place.”
However, it’s hard to establish a situation that simultaneously offers your parent the right amount of family interactions, assistance and independence. One option is building on a casita or mother-in-law suite to your home. This could be attached to your home or maybe a separate small home on the same property. Your parents would have family time, independence and assistance when needed.
Mother-in-law suites can range somewhere from $40,000 to $125,000 and more, and may actually be a better investment overall when you consider alternative costs. Many remodels and suites even add value to your home.
They want to be heard
Before making any big decisions, be sure you talk it through with your parents and understand their wants, needs and expectations. Do they expect to eat dinner together every night or will they want some space?
Also, make sure you find someone who is a certified aging-in-place specialist to help build the mother-in-law suite or remodel your home. This is a new experience for you, but for them it is something they work with continuously, and they will know some of the features and functionality of the home and what is necessary to accommodate your parents and make sure they are comfortable.
They want their legacy to live on
People usually arrive into their senior years having spent most of their lives doing something they believed was meaningful and important. At this point in life, most people are not creating a legacy but simply making sure their legacy lasts beyond their years.
When comparing assisted living programs and in-home care solutions, sometimes the decision comes down to where the money is best spent.
More often than not, remodeled home additions will increase the value of your home and when compared to the annual costs of assisted living, will pay for themselves within a few years. This is truly an investment for the family whereas with assisted living, the dollars are given to the care center without any return. This is another way to ensure your parent’s hard-earned dollars are being spent with purpose.
They want to be remembered
No matter if they are down the street, in the basement or a 30-minute drive away, go see them. Give them a call or, if they are tech-savvy, send a text or Facebook message. Send pictures. Tell them about what’s happening.
The family dynamic might be different now that they are older, but they are still the same person they have always been.
Growing older can be a lonely time, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right plan in place for your family, as well as considering what your parent really wants, you can figure out a solution that ensures comfort, satisfaction and happiness at they age.
TraVek Inc is a design-build whole home improvement company, which means we take a project from design to completion. We specialize in remodeling and additions and thoroughly enjoy giving our customers the new kitchen or in-law apartment they’ve been contemplating for years. Several of our designers render 3-D designs so a customer can see the completed project before the first cabinet is even ordered.