Are You PREPARED To Care For Your Aging Parent?
by: Becky Rolland
After meeting with your accountant and financial advisor you may be confident that everything is in order for your retirement, but what if the unexpected happens? What if there is a sudden illness that leads to your parent’s hospitalization or a fall that requires rehabilitation at a nursing home, do you have a plan? At some point, you may be responsible for your elderly parent’s care. If you are not prepared, this can be an overwhelming endeavor, emotionally and financially. Even if you have set aside funds in the event of an emergency, there are many factors to consider when taking on the additional cost of caring for an older loved one. Now more than ever it is important that you ensure that all your parent’s legal and medical documents are in order.
Prepare now for the unexpected by utilizing the following CHECKLIST to plan for the care of your aging parent:
Durable Power of Attorney
- Should your parent no longer be able to make decisions or become mentally incapacitated, this legal document will designate someone else to take care of his or her affairs. Your parent either designate one person to handle health decisions (the health care proxy) and another for financial decisions (the financial proxy) or have the same person do both.
- Living Will
Also known as an advance health care directive, a living will is used to indicate choices about end-of-life care. Although discussing end-of-life care is difficult, it is a necessary conversation that should not be avoided. If your parent were to experience an irreversible coma, would he or she want to be kept alive on a ventilator and feeding tube?
How current is your parent’s will? Although most people have addressed how they would like their assets distributed, changes occur over time. Make sure that your parent’s will reflect his or her current financial assets (checking/savings accounts) and that there is a directive on how to distribute the items that may not be covered on the will (personal possessions, donations to charitable organizations)
- Insurance Documents
Do you know where your parent’s health, life and/or long-term care insurance documents are located? Take the time to review these important documents annually and make a plan on how the out-of-pocket costs such as deductibles and co-payments will be covered.
- Other Important Documents
Have your parents show you where their financial accounts are located (including savings, investments, retirement accounts and annuities) and take the time to make sure the beneficiaries are current on each document. Also, ask them to complete the proper authorization forms so that someone can access bank accounts and/or a safe-deposit box in the event, should both become unable.
- Health Concerns
Make sure you are familiar with your parent’s medical doctors and that you have as well as a list of what medication are being taken. Also, keep a handy list of updated list of contacts including potential caregivers, including family members, friends, neighbors and health care professionals, should the unexpected occur.
- Alternative Housing
Take the time to assess whether your parent’s current living situation is still working with respect to mobility, cost and maintenance issues. Be proactive in gathering information about assisted living facilities and other long-term care options so that if you are faced with the unexpected, you can make clear and informed choices.
By taking these steps before the need arises, you are giving your parents an opportunity to provide input about their preferences and to be involved in the decision-making process.
Cover Photo at top of page by Lora Leathco, Pixabay 2017