Being prepared for a crisis as your parents get older is essential, but the conversations are tough, and it’s hard to know where to start. In the end, taking these steps to prepare now will make life easier.
Tip 1: Have the conversation with your parents. Do not assume that you know what they would like to do as they age. Have respectful and frequent communication with your parents and involve the entire family. Include all siblings if your parents agree. And it’s often best not to involve the in laws, at least in the first communication. Everyone can hear and participate and ask questions at the same time. There is comfort in a crowd. Parents can communicate their philosophies of finance, health care, end-of-life decision-making, etc.
Be sure to listen. Open communication and listening reduces the potential for family disagreements. More importantly, it increases the likelihood that your parents’ wishes will be met in the event of a crisis and decreases the likelihood of additional stress on them and you in the event of a crisis.
Tip 2: Educate yourself. Education and knowledge about the aging process are essential. Do not reinvent the wheel. Marshall, Parker & Weber offers free webinars and seminars that are open to the public on various topics concerning issues affecting older adults and how to plan for them. There are wonderful online resources, e.g., ACAP Community that contain book reviews, helpful websites such as “What did my doctor say?”, caregiver websites, comparisons of nursing facilities, comparisons of caregiver apps, internet resources, and related organizations like Medicare, Social Security and the Veterans Administration.
Tip 3: Have strategies for aging in place. Once you’ve had conversation(s) with your parents and they are on board, it makes sense to have your parents’ home assessed. Take steps to improve their safety and comfort. For example, would the installation of a ramp or a stair glide make it easier and safer for your parents to age in place at their residence? Investigate services that are available in their area.
What will be the family support expected by parents or available from children? Sometimes the parents’ desires and expectations do not match those of the children. Will the child have a financial and/or caregiving role? How will that role be defined so that there can be accountability?
If paid caregiving, outside assistance or nursing home care is needed, from where will payment come – parents’ funds, long-term care insurance, children’s funds or public benefits? As of October 2017, nursing home care in Pennsylvania costs an average of $321.95 per day or over $117,500 per year. That cost can rapidly deplete the average person’s savings.
[This is the third article in a three-part series on Tips for Children of Aging Parents. Earlier articles are Health Care Tips for Children of Aging Parents and Legal Tips for Children of Aging Parents.]
Tammy A. Weber is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and the Managing Attorney of the law firm of Marshall, Parker & Weber, which has offices in Williamsport, Wilkes-Barre, Jersey Shore and Scranton. For more information visit www.paelderlaw.com/10-tips-children-aging-parents/ or call 1-800-401-4552.