4 Steps to Prepare Aging Parents for Healthy, Happy Lives
One of the most stressful financial burdens falls upon the Sandwich Generation — people who are simultaneously caring for their children and their aging parents. Both family members need support, but it can be overwhelming to figure out the first step toward a healthy and secure life for everyone.
Arvette Reid, financial adviser and client services director of Lifecare Affordability Plan, has years of experience working in health care, finance, and life planning. She helps families as they face difficult decisions about how to plan and pay for elder care. Here are four steps she suggests for getting your aging parents situated.
1Have ‘The Talk’
Most families don’t feel comfortable discussing money around the dinner table, but Reid emphasizes that this difficult topic is the first step toward getting financials under control. It really shouldn’t be minimized.
“It is important to conquer these fears, especially as your parents age,” she tells CircleAround. “If your parents try to brush off the conversation and won’t give you the basics about their finances, explain that they are helping out both futures — theirs and yours — since older adults want to make sure their kids are taken care of.”
2Organize Important Assets
“If your dad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and is expected to die first, not only is it important to determine how to pay for his care needs, but it is also just as important to figure out how your mom will be taken care of with what’s leftover,” Reid says. “For example, do you know if Dad’s pension has a survivor benefit?”
To get a full picture of your own and your parents’ finances, work together to gather critical documents. Doing this ahead of time will make things easier to organize, especially if your parents are in good health and can communicate the significance of their assets.
Reid suggests making a checklist of investments, pensions, wills, trusts, life insurance policy, power of attorney documents, and anything that could be money adjacent.
3Educate Yourself on Long-Term Care
Many people don’t know how much long-term care will cost, especially with so many options available. Live-in aides, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes vary significantly in price.
“Contact your local area agency on aging, an aging life care manager, or even plan a visit to a nearby assisted living community to get current pricing,” she recommends.
Reid emphasizes how having this information in advance, and knowing what your options are when the need arises, can help you make more informed decisions. “The goal is to know the basics before you need to,” she adds, “Because digesting brand-new information in an emergency situation is not ideal and makes decision-making far more difficult.”
4Call In Reinforcements
“When buying a house, you typically work with a team that includes a realtor, a loan office, and an inspector, each playing a key role in supporting you and your vision,” Reid tells CircleAround. “It is also important to have a team of professionals well-versed in the many financial options to help guide you through the process of determining affordable care options for your parents.”
It’s okay to reach out for help and assistance in these matters, whether for simple advice or full service options. Assisting with aging parents requires health care, legal, and financial considerations, and many specialized offices will provide all three for clients.
5The Bottom Line
To ensure your parents are set up for the future, start preparing now and take the appropriate measures today. Following the above steps can save you time, stress, and money, and put you in a better position to care for your parents and your own children.