Seven Things To Do As Your Parent’s Caregiver

In a 2015 study, AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving found that nearly 40 million people had provided care for an adult, typically a parent, in the prior 12 months.

This is a familiar situation for many baby boomers: Mom or Dad is starting to need help with handling basic day-to-day life tasks, but prefer not to live in any sort of eldercare facility.

If you think you might soon become a caregiver to one or both of your parents, it will help to have the following guidelines on how to succeed in that role.


1. Commit to Open Communication

Plan to have an ongoing conversation with Mom or Dad about their needs, financial and otherwise. Sit down with your siblings and talk about everyone’s shared commitment to eldercare. Lay out how you are willing and able to help, and for how long.


2. Review Safety and Personal Care Needs

Ask your parent questions like:

  • Do you have an auto-alert device in case you fall or otherwise need emergency medical services?
  • Does your home need safety updates, like grab bars for the shower, a lift for the stairs, or railings on steps leading onto the porch?
  • Can you drive safely?
  • Do you need help with everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, or eating?


3. Talk about Estate Planning

Make sure your parent has these essential estate planning documents in place:

  • A will specifying how their estate and personal affairs should be handled upon their death
  • A health care power of attorney, which allows them to appoint someone to make medical decisions on their behalf in the event they become incapacitated
  • A living will that states whether they wish to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment in the event they become terminally ill
  • A financial power of attorney allowing them to appoint someone to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf in the event they are unable to communicate their own wishes
  • Up-to-date beneficiary designations for any assets that are not typically covered by a will, including life insurance policies, retirement plans, and IRAs


4. Discuss Long-Term Care

Talk with your parent about the possibility that they will someday need long-term care. This includes professional services to help a chronically ill or disabled person carry out essential, everyday activities like eating, bathing, and dressing. Long-term care can be costly. Individual and group medical insurance plans don’t cover it, and typically, neither does Medicare. See if your parent might benefit from having long-term-care insurance. If so, talk with an insurance agent to find out if your parent would qualify for such coverage.


5. Get a Handle on Your Parent’s Finances

Ask your parent to share their financial records with you so you can offer guidance on money issues. If they’re not already following a budget, work with them to set one up, enlisting the help of a financial planner, if needed. The budget should reflect a plan for withdrawing retirement plan assets tax-efficiently and in a way that lessens the chance that your parent will outlive these assets. Review the budget with your parent and, if need be, help them find ways to cut expenses.


6. Point Toward Government Sources of Information

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website,, features content to help seniors stay in their homes or find an apartment. There’s also information on how to protect against housing discrimination and scams. The U.S. Administration for Community Living website at is another useful resource, and many state and local governments also offer helpful information and programs.


7. Take Care of Yourself Being a caretaker isn’t always easy.

Don’t neglect your own physical and emotional wellbeing. Stay socially involved and take time to enjoy hobbies and other leisure activities, but also remember the importance of getting enough rest and relaxation.

EY Financial Planning Services® is a Pension Boards benefit offered at no cost to retired members of the Annuity Plan with annuitized accounts, as well as actively-contributing members. Call the EY Navigate Financial Planner Line at 1.877.927.1047 or visit to learn more.

This article is used with the permission of Ernst & Young LLP.