Last in a 3-part series from the archives of January 2017.
In earlier editions of TGIF 2 Minutes I delved into the topic of “Caring For Aging Parents”. It may seem like overkill to read a “Part 3”, but ask anyone who is in the midst of coordinating care for a parent or spouse if they wish they had gotten advice sooner. Heck, these days even neighbors and friends are enlisted to check in on a 93-year old down the street. Experts in long-term care insurance cite the emotional strain on family members — that can leave a family member or friend in need of serious or costly medical care for themselves after years of caring for others.
The final topic in this series (excerpted from the archives) is the emotions involved in caring for aging parents, friends and others:
All of this news on [Long-Term Care] premium increases can be really stressful. But even more upsetting can be facing real choices when the need suddenly arises for assisted living or long-term care for a parent or family member. Rarely is there a true plan in place beforehand (although this is changing). In some cases, there are few obvious warning signs that care is needed until — wham!
Siblings often are not on the same page about who is in charge. Even if there is someone “in charge” communication is not easy when everyone lives in different cities or busy lives with kids leave no time to coordinate next steps for a parent. Sound familiar? And then there are the healthcare privacy laws that make it difficult to assist in medical decision-making when one parent has already passed away.
A possible solution to avoid stress and anger: conversations with spouses and among children and siblings years prior to an urgent need. Simply bringing up the topic TODAY — or even joking about it first and then getting serious — is a big first step. My previous article outlined a checklist of conversation starters.** For your own personal long-term care strategy, research the costs and the available savings and policy options (I can help). Set aside monies today for “future health needs” — whatever they may be — because the options and costs will change over time.
Update as of August 2018:
Other solutions include Healthcare Powers of Attorney and simply asking friends who have gone through or are going through caring for a parent or family member. Costs can be greatly reduced by simple research. All elder-care attorneys are not created equal. A good elder-care attorney — like a good CFP — will be transparent and fair about costs and choices.
Have this conversation sooner rather than later in order to give yourself the chance for peace of mind down the line. Peace of mind for parents, children– and most important YOU.