It’s not always easy to face the fact that your parents are getting old. Simple tasks can become complex, and they’re not always willing to share their problems.
However, with a little planning and forethought you can ease the transition as your parents grow older. Here are a few handy tips to make things run smoother.
Discuss Potential Issues Beforehand
Our society seems to have a stigma surrounding the issues regarding aging, but avoiding discussion can lead to problems down the line. It’s far better to sit down with your parents and have a frank conversation about the potential scenarios that could crop up their lives.
While this is never an easy discussion, it is necessary. Your parents may not admit they need care or hide their problems later in life, so you must prepare beforehand. Otherwise, you’ll scramble when the time comes to make decisions.
Research options in your area for in-home, assisted living, and nursing home care. Set a meeting and discuss their wishes and don’t forget to talk about finances. You’ll need to know how they stand financially to make wise decisions.
Understandably, your parents probably want to remain independent as long as possible. However, when they have serious medical issues this may not be feasible. If you let them know that you will do what you can to fulfill their wishes, it can go a long way towards easing their minds.
Nonetheless, you need to know who will handle the situation if they can no longer live alone and where the money will come from for their care. Will they need to sell their home, do they have investments, or do they have sufficient retirement funds for care? Continue to ask questions until you get the information you need.
Collect Vital Documents
No one wants to scramble for information when things change and parents need care. Consequently, you’ll want to create a file and collect as many pertinent documents as possible beforehand.
Items such as insurance policies, mortgage documents, and information regarding retirement accounts, savings, banking information, and investments are vital to a smooth transition. You’ll want to know your parent’s monthly expenses, debts, and income to know how to handle immediate needs. Assets can help handle long-term care.
Additionally, you’ll want to collect medical information such as the names of any attending physicians, medications, and your parents preferred health care facilities. Check if they have Medicare or supplement insurance too.
Firm Up Legal Documents
Do your parents have a current will to ensure a smooth and appropriate transfer of assets? What about an enduring power of attorney if they are unable to handle matters themselves?
Your parents may want to discuss these matters with their lawyer, especially regarding end-of-life wishes.
Where to Find Resources
Family members often volunteer for the task of caring for aging parents, but it is important to realize that it is often a greater time and resource strain than most people realize. Most people need outside help to cope.
Start with your parent’s family physician. They usually know who to contact for assistance. Otherwise, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Aging provides an Eldercare Locator for you to find resources in your area. If you opt for in-home care, ensure you carefully screen candidates through a reputable company.
Alternatively, assisted living offers a private apartment, but shared meals and activities. A nursing home is often the only option for parents with serious medical issues since they require around-the-clock care.
Read through your parent’s insurance policies and rely on their independent insurance agent for wise advice. You may need your parents to grant permission before the agent will discuss their coverage, but it’s important you understand it. Their agent can pinpoint insurance gaps and clarify any grey areas. You want to be able to rely on their coverage when they need it the most.