Dear Barb,

My parents are getting old and I am 65! They are having trouble taking care of themselves and I am wondering what to expect next and what some of their options are?

Signed, Getting worried

Dear Worried,

I know this is a big concern for those who have aging parents. Thankfully, there are many options for in-home care. Housekeepers or companions can help your parents. Part-time aides can come to your parents’ home a few times per week to help with tasks like eating, grooming and other daily responsibilities. Parents who don’t need round-the-clock care can benefit from some extra hands and this could be well worth the expense. This also offers an important element of social interaction for your parent other than family members. Full-time aides and live-in aides can provide care for parents who live on their own but need round-the-clock personal care from an aide. A parent with a physical disability such as cerebral palsy, or a mental disability like Alzheimer’s, can benefit from assisted living facilities which can help your parent maintain some independence while still having quick access to help when needed.

Visiting nurses can provide medical care for your parent. They typically are registered nurses (RN), licensed practical nurses (LPN), or licensed vocational nurses (LVN) who can administer drugs, check vital signs, dress wounds and provide other medical services ordered by your parents’ physician. You are probably wondering about the cost. I have provided a quick overview for hourly care. You would need to connect with a senior home care agency in your area to learn about their services and pricing.

Minimum Hours per Visit: Usually three to four hours

Cost: $15-$25 per hour (varies in geographic areas; most metropolitan cities charge $18+ per hour)

Schedule: Regular schedule required to staff consistent caregiver, acceptable to change schedule

Payment: Two-week deposit may be required; agencies bill weekly or every other week

Benefit of Hourly Care: Agency responsible to make sure a caregiver is always there at scheduled time

The other important detail you may want to investigate to help keep you from any unexpected surprises as your parents are aging is to check that a trust or will has been completed fairly recently by your parents. Should you use a revocable living trust as part of your estate plan? There are three reasons you would: 1). to plan for mental disability. The assets held in the name of a revocable living trust at the time a person becomes mentally incapacitated can be managed by their disability trustee instead of by a court-supervised guardian or conservator; 2). To avoid probate, the assets held in the name of the revocable living trust at the time of the person’s death will pass directly to the beneficiaries named in the trust agreement and outside of the probate procedure; 3). To protect the privacy of the property and beneficiaries after death. By avoiding probate with a revocable living trust, the trust agreement will remain a private document and avoid becoming a public record for all the world to see and read. This will keep the details about the assets and the estate as a private family matter. Contrast this with a last will and testament that has been admitted to probate — it becomes a public court record that anyone can see and read. I realize that these are not fun conversations to have with your parents, however they are crucial for honoring them after they have passed on. It will also help in the grieving process with family members by preventing any confusion for asset divisions which diverts attention from the natural emotion of sorrow. Most of all I urge you to enjoy every moment with your parents. Some of us wish we still could spend time with our parents who are no longer with us.

Barb Rock is a mental health counselor for the House of Matthew Homeward Bound program in Tacoma, and the published author of “Run Your Own Race: Happiness after 50.” Send any questions related to mental health, relationships or life issues to her at

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