Caring for Elderly Parents

By on May 21, 2013
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 5 Steps Every Adult Child Should Take

As parents age, the question of who will care for them, and how that care will be delivered, becomes a more important one. Many adult children end up taking on huge emotional and financial responsibilities in caring for their elderly parents, which can be stressful, and in some cases lead to resentment and family conflict. However, adult children can make the process of caring for elderly parents easier by taking steps today to prepare for the future.

Step 1: Talk to Your Parents

Ideally, you should start talking to your parents (or other loved ones) about their preferences for care long before the need for such care actually arises. Do they want to live independently for as long as possible? Would they be interested in moving into an assisted living facility? During these conversations, you can also discuss issues such as who holds their power of attorney and power of attorney for healthcare (and if those roles haven’t already been assigned, who should hold them), as well as the location of important documents, such as wills, and contact information for key advisors. Having this information will simplify decision making when your parents need care.

Step 2: Start Getting Organized

During your conversation with your parents, you may find that their financial and legal affairs are not as organized as they could be. If your parents’ affairs are in disarray, help them take steps to get organized, such as locating important documents and making sure that their estate planning documents are up to date. Often, it is a good idea for your parents to partner with a financial advisor and estate planning attorney on these tasks. As you encourage your parents to get organized, this is also a good time to review your own financial and legal situation and make any necessary updates—after all, the unexpected can happen at any age.

Step 3: Consider Long-Term-Care Needs

There’s a good chance your parents will need long-term care at some point in their lives. But will they be able to afford such care if they need it? Long-term care can be extremely expensive, and a long stay in a nursing home can eventually deplete a person’s assets. For some people, long-term-care insurance can help cover the expense of a nursing home and other care. Long-term-care insurance is easier and cheaper to obtain when you are younger, however, so you should talk to your parents about whether they need such a policy when they are still relatively young and healthy. At the same time, you should also consider your own possible long-term-care needs and whether it’s time to buy insurance for yourself.

Step 4: Don’t Put Off Planning for the Future

Even if your parents are still relatively young and in good health, it is never too early to plan for the future. Yet because conversations about aging, illness and death can be difficult, many people put off dealing with these issues. The results of that procrastination, however, are usually much more difficult to deal with than having the conversation itself would be. Don’t delay until it is too late and your parents are no longer capable of articulating their wishes.

Step 5: Work with Trusted Advisors

Planning for the care of elderly parents can be complicated. Working with a team of trusted advisors (including a financial advisor and estate planning attorney) can help you navigate the complex planning landscape. Look for advisors who have expertise in elder care issues, since they will have knowledge of the specific issues you’re likely to face as your parents age.

Prepare Today for Tomorrow’s Responsibilities  

Caring for elderly parents is never easy. But taking some steps today to prepare for the future can make the task a little simpler for everyone involved. By planning in advance and discussing important issues now, you can ensure your parents get the kind of care that they want, as well as minimize stress and conflict if the time comes when they are no longer able to manage their affairs on their own.

By Chris Cooper

About Jacqueline Maddison

Jacqueline Maddison is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Rancho Santa Fe Magazine. She believes in shining light on the best of the best in life. She welcomes you into the world of the ultimate luxury lifestyle.

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