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With a large population of Baby Boomers aging, more adults are starting to think about how to help their parents get the most out of those golden years. Whether it’s welcoming your parents into your home, planning a big trip, hiring personal assistance or encouraging a new hobby, those things require a bit of financial planning. Here are some ways to help your parents embrace life—and aging—both gracefully and affordably.
The first step in helping your parents age comfortably is to ask them what they want ahead of time, then start preparing—both financially and practically. Get a clear picture of your parents’ finances and, if necessary, how much you may need to contribute. That way, you’ll have enough funds to cover costs when the time comes.
After retirement, life can both slow down and speed up. Encourage your parents to stay active, as their health allows, by pursuing new hobbies and old dreams. If your parents don’t know where to start, help them prioritize what’s most important and then set a timeline and budget to set things in motion. You might also remind them that research shows physical and social activity not only alleviates depression, it can actually help your parents live longer. Here are a few healthy (and affordable!) hobbies you might suggest:
Arts and crafts: Making things stimulates the brain—and it’s fun, too. From painting and photography to scrapbooking and knitting, the choices are nearly endless. Consider classes to help them build skills and make new friends. Check garage sales, thrift stores, or online sources like Craigslist for great deals on secondhand art and craft supplies.
In talking to them about it, you might be surprised to learn that your parents already have some of these skills from their younger years. If so, now’s a great time to ask them to share what they know with you or their grandkids. Your parents will be passing down valuable knowledge, and you’ll all benefit from creating something together.
Dancing: Ballroom or swing dance is a great way for seniors to exercise and socialize. Not only does dancing improve balance, it also helps to reduce the risk of falls, fractures and immobility. It’s also a great way to meet people. Check community listings to see if there are any senior classes or clubs in your area.
Gardening: Many seniors enjoy the peace and creativity of working with nature. If your parents live in a retirement community, check into gardening clubs for residents. If they live with you or on their own, encourage them to plant a new herb, flower or vegetable garden and share the bounty with the family.
Caring for a pet: Furry companions provide a comfort system and actually produce feel-good hormones in the brain. Learn more about some of the best dog breeds for seniors.
Volunteering: Giving back not only provides great social time for seniors, it also builds a feeling of pride and self-worth. Talk to your parents to see which causes matter most to them, then look for volunteer opportunities in your area.
Travel: More seniors are exploring the world in their later years. If you’re concerned about your parents traveling alone, there are a number of tours and travel groups that are tailored for senior needs. Wherever your parents are headed, suggest travel insurance to financially protect them against lost luggage, sudden cancelations or medical expenses while away from home.
No matter where your parents’ interests lie, figure out the associated costs, then sit down with them and create a budget that will allow them to pursue their passions.
A recent study found that internet use was linked to less depression in aging adults, because it offers a connection to family and friends who may not live close by. There’s also a wide range of new apps and services for seniors that can simplify and enrich daily life. The Umpqua Go-To app makes it easy for elderly parents to manage their money; here are some more top apps for seniors.
Whether your parents elect to stay in their home or move into yours, make sure it’s outfitted safely and ergonomically. Modifications may include installing railings in showers, putting in slip-resistant flooring, or building wheelchair ramps for easier access. The average cost to make a home safe for an older family member can vary, so start getting quotes and consider prioritizing renovations to help stagger costs.
For families with older parents, there are a number of resources available, from senior community centers, AARP, Medicaid or the department of Veteran Affairs (VA). Whether it’s free classes, lower medical costs, or long-term care benefits, these can all ease the financial burden so your parents can live the life they choose. You can find Elder Care and Long-Term Care Resources for help in your state or read about Medicaid Planning or VA Benefits.
If you’re a caregiver for mom or dad, you may be eligible to get tax relief by claiming an elderly parent as a dependent or deducting medical expenses. You can also make sure that elderly parents get help during tax season from various federal, state or independent groups that provide free tax assistance to seniors.
No matter what the next chapter holds for your parents, saving today can fund life’s best moments tomorrow. Check out our interest-earning savings accounts to get started.