A Checklist To Caring For Aging Parents

A woman embraces her father after consulting an aging parents checklist.

You or your loved ones might be part of the baby boomer generation, which is shifting from being older adults to seniors and retirees. Meanwhile, numerous studies have shown that adults’ expectations regarding aging (ERA) can impact overall health and mortality rates. 

Your expectations may be about the aging process and what it means to “age well.” Depending on your lifestyle choices, activity level, and positive or negative thinking, you may have better or worse outcomes as you age.

Not surprisingly, aging adults who understand how behavior and attitude can affect outcomes are more likely to take advantage of the senior living services and resources available to them. These tools can help keep your parents active and engaged—bringing sustainable, long-term health benefits.

Use Our Aging Parents Checklist to Prepare for the Future

If you find yourself caring for your parents while you still have children at home, you may be part of the sandwich generation. This is a difficult and overwhelming spot to be in and that’s why we’re here to support you during your parents’ aging process. 

Our goal is to help you keep your parents healthy, safe, active, and independent for as long as possible for the rest of their lives. This caring for aging parents checklist will guide you as you work through the transition into the later stages of your parents’ “golden years.” 

Make a Senior Care Plan

There isn’t time to create a sustainable senior plan when you’re in crisis mode. Waiting until you need to implement the plan is a recipe for emotional chaos and stress. The key is to discuss the long-term care plans early—and revise them as needed along the way. 

Senior care plans address:

  • Creating a safer and more accessible home. You may need to take steps to minimize injuries and promote independent living.
  • Your parents’ financial status. If they’ve saved for “a rainy day,” it’s time to support their awareness that senior care is part of that rainy day plan. Also check if they currently receive Social Security, or may be eligible.
  • Essential legal documents. This includes wills, trusts, durable power of attorney, advanced medical directives, etc. You might also look into elder law.
  • Finding preferred types of caregiving. Options include in-home care (via family and/or professionals), assisted living, memory care, nursing home, or a senior living community. 
  • Health insurance. See if your parents have any long-term care insurance or coverage for any other types of senior health care and elder care.
  • Respite care plans. These plans provide relief for you or another family member to get a break from doing most of the caregiving for your parents at home.

Conversations around the following topics form a solid foundation for your senior care plan.

Look Out for Red Flags

We recommend reading 10 Signs Your Parents Need Assistance to Safely Live at Home and passing it on to other family members.

These guidelines may help you notice “red flags” that indicate it’s time to move forward with your senior care plan. Some red flags may already be present. If not, you can get ideas about what to notice as time goes on.

Get Financial Planning Pieces in Place

Try to gain a clear understanding of your aging parents’ current and future financial picture. Financial Planning for Senior Parents is an excellent place to begin.

Make Sure Daily Nutritional Needs Are Met

Nutrition is a key to healthy aging. Having nutritional, easy-heat meals, and snacks on hand makes a tremendous difference in general energy levels and health. 

  • You may need to bolster your elderly parents’ meals via senior support services such as Meals-on-Wheels or have grocery shopping and meal prep done for them. 
  • These services can be started a few times per month and then stepped-up as needed. 
  • This is a good way to introduce resistant parents to in-home services so that they are more willing to make the most of needed services down the road.

Prioritize Routine Exercise and Activity 

Like nutrition, routine exercise and activity are another foundation for healthy aging. Caring for elderly parents includes encouraging them to continue walking, swimming, taking senior-specific exercise classes, and so on to keep up their strength, stamina, and balance.

The combination of eating healthy foods and exercising is proven to prevent the onset of cognitive decline and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

If your parents aren’t as mobile as they once were, make sure they have the modifications necessary to remain active, including:

  • Mobility aids
  • Exercise bands/home exercise equipment
  • Ideas for exercising from a wheelchair or chair

The internet and local senior centers have loads of resources for keeping seniors moving and engaged.

Schedule Access for Favorite Activities and Social Gatherings

An important part of your aging parent’s checklist is to assess their ability to transport themselves. At some point, most seniors need to modify their driving (for example, only during daylight hours and good weather) or many of them have to turn their keys in altogether. 

This is a critical point in the aging process because social engagement and community are essential to emotional and mental wellbeing. Based on a joint effort by The Hartford and MIT Age Lab, AARP created this free, online Webinar: We Need to Talk, on how to assess and discuss senior driving ability.

Like meal services, there’s a range of senior transportation services available that can be set up occasionally. Over time, these services can be used more regularly to ensure your parents:

  • Keep their medical, healthcare, personal care, and self-care appointments
  • Attend religious services
  • Get together with friends
  • Run errands

Monitor Medication 

If you notice your parents are experiencing negative symptoms or are in a pessimistic state of mind, it can sometimes be due to their medication (or forgetting to take their medication). To prevent these potential issues:

  • Make sure their medications are monitored and evaluated for contraindications or conflicts 
  • Use medication reminders, especially if you suspect they are failing to take their medication altogether

Meet with Home Care Agencies and/or Tour Assisted Living Communities

Your checklist for caring for your aging parents should include scheduling assessments with licensed home care agencies and/or touring senior care communities in your area. The benefits of doing this early include:

  • You can proactively identify top picks while your parents are still able to contribute to the conversation.
  • You’ll have immediate resources you trust, if and when the time comes that your parents need more help than you can provide.

Our Caring for Aging Parents Checklist Is Here for You

It’s helpful for adult children to have an aging parents checklist ready in advance so that when the time comes to explore the ways you can help your parents live safely and comfortably, you’re already ahead of the game.

If you’re still feeling unsure about where to start on your journey as a support person, we recommend looking at your parent’s home first.

After all, most seniors want to remain living at home as long as possible. Click below to learn some easy ways you can improve the safety of your aging parent’s home!

Easy Home Modifications Can Enable Seniors to Age In Place Comfortably

Learn more about caring for aging parents:

The Cost of In-Home Care for Elderly Family Members

How to Deal With Aging Parents Who Are in Denial