Doing groundwork early on to develop a long-term care plan isn’t light work. It can be an emotionally taxing experience to think of the possibility of your loved one falling ill or disabled to the point where they can no longer take care of themselves.

Life is full of curveballs. But, even if you and your aging parents have a clean health history, follow a nutritious diet and are active in the workforce, there is still planning work they can pursue to prepare for any medical surprises.

Create separately, together

Since anyone can fall victim to a catastrophic event or chronic illness, it’s wise to consider creating your own long-term care plan as you help parents through the process. When your health is near perfect it may be hard to picture whether you’d prefer at home care over moving into a nursing home, so keep in mind you can always alter your plan as you wish.

Ultimately, making advance care planning decisions, like naming a medical power of attorney, doesn’t have to be a call you make while on your deathbed. It can also help create some sense of organization in emergency situations you can’t plan out.

Apply for benefits

Some aging adults might want to continue to keep their independence in several aspects of life. If your parents turn down your offer to do grocery shopping for them or drive them places, it might be because they are still physically and mentally capable of doing so. But, if they refuse to sign up for health care programs and benefits through Medicaid or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, that’s a different story. Aging individuals are that eligible for these types of programs, both cut costs on routine medical bills and can stack these savings for themselves, their spouse or other family members. You can help your parents lift present and future burdens by encouraging them to or helping them apply for Medicaid or VA benefits.

There are so many options when it comes to planning at any stage in life. If you or your parents are ready to take the leap into long-term care planning, you can lean on an experienced elder law attorney to guide the process.