Caring for your aging parents is
something you hope you can handle when the time comes, but it's the last thing
you want to think about. Whether the time is now or somewhere down the road,
there are steps that you can take to make your life (and theirs) a little
easier. Some people live their entire lives with little or no assistance from
family and friends, but today Americans are living longer than ever before.
It's always better to be prepared.
Mom? Dad? We
need to talk
The first step you need to take is
talking to your parents. Find out what their needs and wishes are. In some
cases, however, they may be unwilling or unable to talk about their future.
This can happen for a number of reasons, including:
Fear of becoming dependent
Resentment toward you for
Reluctance to burden you with their
If such is the case with your
parents, you may need to do as much planning as you can without them. If their
safety or health is in danger, however, you may need to step in as caregiver.
The bottom line is that you need to have a plan. If you're nervous about
talking to your parents, make a list of topics that you need to discuss. That
way, you'll be less likely to forget anything. Here are some things that you
may need to talk about:
Long-term care insurance: Do they
have it? If not, should they buy it?
Living arrangements: Can they still
live alone, or is it time to explore other options?
Medical care decisions: What are
their wishes, and who will carry them out?
Financial planning: How can you
protect their assets?
Estate planning: Do they have all of
the necessary documents (e.g., wills, trusts)?
Expectations: What do you expect
from your parents, and what do they expect from you?
personal data record
Once you've opened the lines of
communication, your next step is to prepare a personal data record. This
document lists information that you might need in case your parents become
incapacitated or die. Here's some information that should be included:
Financial information: Bank
accounts, investment accounts, real estate holdings
Legal information: Wills, durable
power of attorneys, health-care directives
Funeral and burial plans: Prepayment
information, final wishes
Medical information: Health-care
providers, medication, medical history
Insurance information: Policy
numbers, company names
Advisor information: Names and phone
numbers of any professional service providers
Location of other important records:
Keys to safe-deposit boxes, real estate deeds
Be sure to write down the location
of documents and any relevant account numbers. It's a good idea to make copies
of all of the documents you've gathered and keep them in a safe place. This is
especially important if you live far away, because you'll want the information
readily available in the event of an emergency.
Where will your
If your parents are like many older
folks, where they live will depend on how healthy they are. As your parents
grow older, their health may deteriorate so much that they can no longer live
on their own. At this point, you may need to find them in-home health care or
health care within a retirement community or nursing home. Or, you may insist
that they come to live with you. If money is an issue, moving in with you may
be the best (or only) option, but you'll want to give this decision serious
thought. This decision will impact your entire family, so talk about it as a
family first. A lot of help is out there, including friends and extended
family. Don't be afraid to ask.
If you're concerned about your
parents' mental or physical capabilities, ask their doctor(s) to recommend a
facility for a geriatric assessment. These assessments can be done at hospitals
or clinics. The evaluation determines your parents' capabilities for day-to-day
activities (e.g., cooking, housework, personal hygiene, taking medications,
making phone calls). The facility can then refer you and your parents to organizations that provide
If you can't be there to care for
your parents, or if you just need some guidance to oversee your parents' care,
a geriatric care manager (GCM) can also help. Typically, GCMs are nurses or
social workers with experience in geriatric care. They can assess your parents'
ability to live on their own, coordinate round-the-clock care if necessary, or
recommend home health care and other agencies that can help your parents remain
Get support and
Don't try to care for your parents
alone. Many local and national caregiver support groups and community services
are available to help you cope with caring for your aging parents. If you don't
know where to find help, contact your state's department of eldercare services.
Or, call (800) 677-1116 to reach the Eldercare Locator, an information and
referral service sponsored by the federal government that can direct you to
resources available nationally or in your area. Some of the services available
in your community may include:
Caregiver support groups and
Adult day care
Guidelines on how to choose a
Free or low-cost legal advice
Once you've gathered all of the
necessary information, you may find some gaps. Perhaps your mother doesn't have
a health-care directive, or her will is outdated. You may wish to consult an
attorney or other financial professional whose advice both you and your parents
This material was prepared by
Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily
represent the views of The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This
information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named
Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is
believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to
its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal,
accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is
needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent
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