Of the roughly 53 million informal caregivers in the US, most take care of aging-in-place parents. Serving as a family caregiver for an elderly parent can be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences that you’ll ever have. As such, preparing in advance for that role-reversal situation will help ensure that all your caregiving goals get met. Using these planning tips should make the experience a more beneficial one for everyone involved.    

Your Family Caregiving Checklist 

No matter how hard you try, predicting the future with much accuracy is never easy. Getting cancer, experiencing a serious fall, or being diagnosed with dementia are all common life events that seniors- and their adult children- never see coming.

As a potential caregiver here are some items to include on your family caregiving checklist:

Discussing their wishes

Although it may be uncomfortable, you and your siblings will need to sit down with mom or dad and discuss their long-term wishes. Where do they see themselves living within the next 5 to 10 years? Have they set aside enough in their retirement “nest egg” to cover future bills, including emergencies?

Deciding where they will live

Long-distance caregiving can wear down even the most seasoned family caregivers. If you live over an hour away, will you be able to juggle the long commutes along with your other responsibilities? Would dad agree to move in with you? Could mom take care of herself once dad is gone? Is there a support network of friends and family where they live?

Quitting your job (or not)

Out-of-pocket caregiving expenses and unpaid time off work can put a strain on your household budget. Do your financial resources allow you to cut back on your work hours? Could you still pay your monthly bills if you quit working altogether for a while? What benefits, including health insurance, would you be giving up to-devote more time to mom or dad’s care?

Getting paid for caregiving 

Medicaid now offers several programs that provide a monthly stipend for qualified family caregivers. Those include Adult Foster Care, HCBS Waivers, 1915 Waivers, Medicaid Personal Services and the Medicaid Caregiver Exemption. Look into those programs now, rather than later.

Managing their legal affairs

If they haven’t already done so, encourage your parents to make up a will and to choose a designated Power-of-Attorney (POA) for both their medical and legal/financial affairs. Having all those legally binding documents ready in advance will help minimize confusion later if mom or dad can no longer make their own decisions.

Overseeing their medical care

This aspect will certainly