If your parents are over age 75, it might be time for you to provide some assistance to them. Yes, this is tough. Nothing in life has properly prepared you to address the issue of what kind of help you should be providing to your aging parents. There’s certainly a lot to consider, including knowing what signs to look for, trying to avoid family conflict, and attempting to respect their wishes while ensuring they’re in a safe situation.
Actions to take now
Before you find yourself in a crisis situation, there are a number of proactive steps you can take to facilitate your ability to ensure your parents’ needs are met. To begin, you should hold a family meeting where the main topics of conversation are your parents’ wishes for their home, their healthcare needs, and the management of their finances.
Here’s a guide to help ensure you get the information you need to know.
- What bank accounts, investments, and retirement accounts exist?
- How do they pay their bills and access their accounts?
- Have they talked with an attorney about a will or trust?
- Should a durable power of attorney be established—so you can have access to their accounts?
- Do they have a long-term care insurance policy? (Many seniors are unaware that Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care needs.)
- Do they have any existing term or whole life policies?
- Do they want to, or can they, stay in their current home?
- What are the assisted living or memory care options nearby and how much do they cost?
You should have this information—at a minimum—to be able to plan appropriately for your aging parents’ future needs. If you’re fortunate, they are still able to live independently and enjoy the comfortable lifestyle they planned for. But you should make sure someone is watching out for any issues that could put a monkey-wrench in those plans.
Failure to gather the information above can be catastrophic—for you and your parents. Imagine being in the heat of the moment and having to make decisions without knowing all the options; the added stress, along with the potential of a poor outcome, are definitely worth avoiding.
Nervous about having this conversation? That’s understandable—as it’s a tough subject. Consider getting started by asking open-ended questions like these:
- Mom, I want to make sure I understand what your hopes and expectations are as you get older. Can you share with me what you are hoping for your housing situation?
- Dad, I want to make sure I’m being a good steward of your money and property as you get older. Can you tell me what’s important to you when it comes to your assets?
When your parents see you have their best interest at heart, the path forward should be smoother, and you’ll both be better prepared for the future.
Want to discuss your specific situation with me? I’ve worked with many families going through this process, so I’m happy to serve as a sounding board and offer my expertise. Schedule an appointment.
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