Taking care of aging parents
I’ve had many conversations recently with people having to spend more time and effort helping their aging parents, and I’ve seen it in my family as well. Though every circumstance is unique, there are a few ways we can start to prepare. The issues vary from mental and/or physical decline to depleting financial resources.
Below are some statistics compiled by Morningstar regarding the stage of life I’m referring to:
- 52%: Percentage of people turning age 65 who will need some type of long-term care services in their lifetimes.
- 2.5 years: Average number of years women will need long-term care.
- 1.5 years: Average number of years men will need long-term care.
- 14%: Percentage of people who will need long-term care for longer than five years.
- 33%: Percentage of Americans over age 85 who have Alzheimer's dementia.
- 57.5%: Percentage of individuals turning 65 between 2015 and 2019 who will spend less than $25,000 on long-term care during their lifetimes.
- 15.2%: Percentage of individuals turning 65 between 2015 and 2019 who will spend more than $250,000 on long-term care during their lifetimes.
- $97,455: Median annual nursing-home cost, private room, 2017.
- 83%: Percentage of care provided to older adults that is delivered by friends or family members.
- 65%: The percentage of caregivers who are female.
Preparing for this stage of life is challenging as everyone’s journey is unique. That said, in my experience, people who have the conversations before they are faced with having to make these decisions are better prepared and less stressed. Some families have no problem talking about this, but many find it challenging. Reassuring parents that this conversation is for their benefit so you understand what their wishes are, and approaching it out of love and care is a good starting point.
Here are a few areas to address:
- What are your parents’ wishes related to their care?
- Who is going to provide care and how will it be paid for?
- Should they move and if so when and where?
- If there are multiple siblings, who will play what role?
- Discuss issues related to potential health challenges including mental decline, and how that should be handled. This can include topics of their safety when living alone or driving.
- Be sure documents are in place that provide instructions on who can make healthcare decisions if the individual isn’t able to do so on their own (medical power of attorney).
- Take inventory. Make sure someone is aware of what resources are available, how they can be used and if it looks like there is enough to meet the wishes discussed.
- Is long term care insurance in place or should it be considered?
- Should and can the caregiver, if a family member, be compensated? Many people are unable to work and be part or full-time caregivers, so some compensation may be needed.
- Be sure documents are in place that provide instructions on who can manage finances if the individual isn’t able to do so on their own (medical power of attorney).
Again, communicate early. This conversation needs to take place as a sign of love and care for your family. It may feel uncomfortable at first but can save a lot of time and stress down the road.
Lastly, having an estate plan including financial and healthcare powers of attorney, wills and a trust can make things much easier when these events arise. If you would like a referral to a great estate planning attorney, let me know.
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