Preparing For Your Elder Parents’ Future Begins Today

Family and Senior Care ServicesI recently returned to my childhood home in Virginia to spend some much-needed time with my parents. I always look forward to catching up with my nieces and nephews and seeing how much they have grown, as well as visiting old friends and relaxing at the oceanfront.

The other day, I had a deep conversation with Dad at his garden – something I had never done with him in my life. Dad is a fiercely independent man approaching his eighth decade soon who always preferred to keep his thoughts to himself. But on this day, he was in the mood for talking and I was all ears. As we spoke like parent and child again, I could not help but notice how Dad and I were alike in so many ways. We both loved to garden, work in the yard and were both early risers. We even shared a love for the sea which explained why he chose to build his home by a body of water. It was amazing how much I learned about us that day.

Then, he paused for a moment and pondered about his future life. My stomach ached at the thought of “the talk,” but I knew at some point I would want to know his wishes – better sooner than later.

No one wants to admit that there will come a time when the roles of parenthood and childhood reverse, and you need to make sure that as your parents age they are going to be okay. In reality, this is something that everyone needs to think about and are ready for whatever the future holds.

A common mistake many people make is to delay involvement in their elderly parents’ future plans only to discover later how much harder and more expensive it gets. By planning for the later years now, you can keep costs down and minimize any hurt feelings. Here are some ideas to start considering:

Open Up An Honest Conversation: Learn about your parents’ current financial situation, where they wish to live in the coming years and what preparations made to fund that.

Know What Insurance Policies Are In Place : Health? Long-term care? Life? What is covered in the policies and where are these policies located?

Get A Basic Will : Studies show more than 50% of Americans do not have this vital document. If your parents do not, you should get a lawyer immediately.

Discuss Your Parents’ Assets : Is there a mortgage on the family home or is it paid off? Identify any bank accounts, IRAs, stocks and bonds. Are there other monthly sources of income, such as Social Security or a pension?

Medicare or Medicaid? Learn about each program’s eligibility requirements and benefits. For example, Medicare does not cover for long-term nursing home care whereas Medicaid may.

Know When To Step In : If managing day-to-day expenses are becoming difficult for your parents, you should seek the advice of a financial planner or an attorney who specializes in elder law. Obtain durable powers of attorney for financial and medical decisions. Request your parents’ bank add you as a signer on their accounts, so that you become the caretaker of their money.

Planning for the future care of an elderly parent can be difficult for the children. Adding to the difficulty is the reality that many will become their parents’ caregivers at some point while also caring for their own families. Senior care services abound to assist families who are struggling with the stress of elder care while maintaining a career and family. Taking steps to prepare for the future today may prevent many family disagreements and heartaches later.

Image credit:  Gabriella Fabbri