Parents get older; it is a fact of life. Your parents have been there for you all your life. Now, as they get older, the tables start to turn. The truth is there are many items to discuss with your aging parents. There are issues with their finances, health care, housing. Yes, even end-of-life questions need to be addressed.
Though it's tough to think about, you should prepare for what lies ahead. While it may be uncomfortable and you may even feel overwhelmed with the idea of having this discussion, you will rest easy knowing you're following your parents' wishes as they get older.
One of the most critical points to discuss with aging parents is health care. Do not be afraid to ask them what they want to do when they get sick. If you have siblings, discuss who will possess a power of attorney (POA) for health care. The POA will be part of a Living Will. A Living Will is an advanced health care directive where they can express their wishes when they can no longer speak for themselves. This directive will help the person who holds the POA make the proper decisions about their care.
-Part of the Living Will should include a HIPAA Privacy Release Form. The form gives doctors and facilities the ability to discuss your Mom or Dad's private health information with you.
Be sure to ask about their Medicaresupplement and Long-Term Care Insurance. Do they have a Medicareprescription drug plan? When they need long-term care do, they prefer in-home care or perhaps an assisted living facility.
As they approach end-of-life, palliative care and hospice options should be discussed. For example, would your parents prefer home or inpatient hospice when necessary? It will not be easy to have this talk, but it will be worth it to honor your parents' wishes in the end.
It would be best if you also talked to your parents about their real estate. Do your parents want to stay in their home, or should they start considering downsizing? Senior living and independent living centers have become popular for active seniors who don't want the full responsibility of maintaining a large home and still enjoy an active lifestyle.
How much do they owe on their mortgage, or is it free and clear? Do they own a vacation home, or are they snowbirds? Do they own other property you may not be aware exists? Maybe they own rental property. Once they no longer can manage their real estate in the future, what happens? What are their wishes?
Millions of seniors fall victim to fraudulent schemes as they get older. Make sure to tell your parents about this, and teach them a few telltale signs:
- Timeshare resort companies prey on the elderly because they know they often have a lot of money. Warn your parents about signing any agreements without your knowledge.
- Talk about getting a visual doorbell for your parents' home so you can see who comes to the door. That way, you can make sure no one tries to sell them something when you are not there.
- Telephone and email scams prey on seniors (and others). Remind them that government agencies and utilities will not usually call them or send them an email. They should never give anyone personal account information on the phone when they call or email out-of-the-blue - if they are legit, they will know your account information. If there is any question, they should contact the agency directly.
There are other discussions to have with your parents, but you must start the conversation. Parents deserve to be involved in the decisions made about their lives. It is important to have these tough conversations with them as they get older. Discussing the future will keep them safe and prepare you for what is to come.
As you discuss your parent's wishes as they age, have you thought about your own plans to address the financial costs and burdens of aging. The best time to plan is well before you retire.
Preparing your family and finances is easier when you do it in your 40s or 50s as part of your overall retirement plan. Part of the plan should be affordable Long-Term Care Insurance.
An LTC policy keeps you in control and helps avoid becoming dependent on your children decades from now. You will have access to guaranteed tax-free benefits that will pay for your choice of quality care, either in-home or in a facility.
You can safeguard your 401K, IRA, and other assets and maintain your lifestyle once you retire. However, Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, so you must have reasonably good health in order to get coverage. Plus, premiums are based on part on your age, health, family history, and other factors.
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