Planning for the Care of Your Parents

In an NPR article, “Preparing for a Future That Includes Aging Parents”, Marilyn Geewax indicates that fewer than 1 in 5 people adequately plan for the financial and legal needs faced in caring for an incapacitated parent.

It is more than knowing whether your parents have regular Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan.  And while your parents may still be going strong at the moment, eventually you will face the likelihood of one or both of them needing care.

Statistics indicate that of those people reaching age 65, 70% will require some type of care assistance in the future.  Knowing that, it seems foolhardy to ignore the facts and fail to plan accordingly.

This failure to plan can lead to financial burdens on the adult children of the aging parent.  “The percentage of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years.”  In our current financial times, this can be a huge drain on the baby boomer population who is trying to plan and save for their own retirement.

This article points out something that I believe is of utmost importance in managing the care of an aging parent; while discussions about money may need to happen, the serious plan needs to begin with a legal document.  Somebody in the family needs to be designated as the Power of Attorney.  This document gives the designee the authority to make decisions for a loved one if they are unable to make decisions for themselves due to illness or memory loss.  It is a must!

If you fail to obtain this document while your parents are still in good mental and physical health, you may be faced with the time consuming, costly and emotionally difficult task of seeking court awarded guardianship for your parent when decisions need to be made about their care or their financial affairs need to be managed.

If you don’t understand the costs of care you might be more willing to let this slip by.  But, the costs are high.  Check out the comparison chart in this article (and click on the state by state comparison link to see the specifics in your area for more accurate details).  I assure you, you will be amazed.

In understanding the costs, you will be better prepared to begin having the conversations with your parents.  The first discussion should include a talk about the importance of a Power of Attorney and what it can do in helping the adult children in navigating the care needs of the parents in the future.

To be sure there are many more steps in the planning process, but this is a great first-step to make with your parents.  Doing this before there are issues saves everyone a great deal of difficulty and frustration when care becomes necessary.  In times of illness, a Power of Attorney can become a gift for both the parent and the adult children.

On the journey with you…….Kathy

Kathy Eynon is an Eldercare Coach and Consultant that works with those struggling to cope with the demands of caring for an aging parent.  She can be reached by email at: Kathy@ParentCareAlliance.com or visit her website at www.ParentCareAlliance.com.

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