We traditionally prepare for marriage, home ownership and retirement, all major life events. One chapter in life we often take for granted however is aging. Every year we edge closer to what we hope are the “Golden Years.”
Have you talked to your family about such sensitive issues?
Get the Ball Rolling
A few topics you should take into consideration before getting the family together are listed below. Require everyone involved to know what discussions are on the table. They need to be prepared with their personal questions and level of responsibility.
- Parent’s wishes – Start here. Are their expectations realistic? Do they have a will or an attorney? Is there health, life and/or long-term care insurance? Do they already have a plan and you don’t know about it?
- Health conditions – Are they concerned about future mobility, in home or self-care due to an illness or disease? Will they need help to take the proper medications? Are there other Activities of Daily Living they anticipate needing an outside service provide?
- Nutrition and exercise – An important part of staying healthy means having proper nutrition and the resistance to fight off colds and recover faster from medical events. Is their diet affecting their health? Are they exercising? Has exercise become a daily routine are they exercising enough?
- Transportation – How will they get back and forth between doctor visits, the grocery store or social activities if they are unable to drive?
- Finances – Do they have business income or a retirement budget in place? Where are the financial institutions they use? Do they have a financial planner they trust?
A Family Affair
A stigma exists when discussing aging, money, and death. No one intends to appear insensitive but discussing these topics should be a priority. Be confident all involved know talking about aging, estate planning, and illness benefits all and prevents the confusion and arguing at a later date.
An Honest Place
Communication must be clear to avoid misunderstandings. A parent may find it difficult to say a particular heirloom goes to Jane without hurting Evelyn’s feelings but at least there are no assumptions. Have a dialogue now about gifting items rather than having confusion when emotions are fragile.
Acknowledge you understand how your parents feel so they know it is safe to discuss their wishes without judgment. It is important they understand you are not taking control but acting as an ambassador for carrying out their wishes.
Many Hands, Light Work
Decisions on roles and responsibilities of the family should be made before a crisis.
PAPERWORK. One person should be designated to be in charge of tracking documents. This individual will know how to contact any professionals such as accountants, attorneys and financial planners. In addition they should have access to online accounts and passwords.
FINANCIAL: Know the income, debt and other assets parents have. Information is needed on the following:
- Bank accounts
- Pensions and 401(k)
- Vehicle titles
- Deeds to all properties
- Loans and debts, including credit accounts
- Tax returns
- Veteran benefits
LEGAL. A durable power of attorney is needed to represent the estate. A POA controls the answers to all financial concerns but this empowerment ends at the time of the parent’s death. The executor of the will oversees inheritance distributions.
MEDICAL. A medical power of attorney is in charge of medical decisions. What are your parent’s wishes in case of a debilitating illness or with a need for in home care? Are they organ donors? Will the designated medical power of attorney know and understand the current medical situation?
HOUSING & TRANSPORTATION. Most Senior Living Communities offer arrangements for transportation to personal and medical attention if necessary. Meals, laundry, professional resources and transportation are readily available. Having a relationship with a Transition Consultant prior to a need is good stewardship.
Putting It Down on Paper
Even though everyone may understand this process, it is best to have formal documents drawn. Have information not included in the will, such as a “laundry list.” reviewed and understood. Final plans for a memorial ceremony and personal preferences as your parents age assures you are acting in their best interest.
Finding Help When Ready
“There used to be only two absolute truths. Death and taxes. But there is a third, and that’s eldercare. The only questions are: how long is it going to last, and how intense is it going to be? You need to be prepared while Mom and Dad are still competent. By anticipating what will be needed for your eldercare journey, you can make the trip much less stressful for everyone involved,” Stuart Furman, Esq, Elder Law Attorney and legal expert.
The service you will receive at Bridge to Better Living is designed specifically to make certain your family member feels at home. Different stages of life have different requirements. BBL is confident we are able to find the community offering the best quality of life for your family. Bridge to Better Living helps you, your parents and loved ones transition into this chapter of life with dignity and respect. Visit us to see what Bridge to Better Living does to make this process easier.