Caring for Elderly Parents

Caring for Elderly Parents — It Comes Down to Communication and Collaboration

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Caring for Elderly Parents — It Comes Down to Communication and Collaboration

For many of us, our connection with our parents is one of the most enduring relationships we'll have throughout our lives. That relationship changes as we age. As children, we relied on our parents for care and support, but when we become adults, we may need to provide assistance, care and support to help them navigate through life's challenges.  

Creating a pro-active plan that meets your and your parents’ needs can help you manage a difficult situation with minimal disruption and difficulty.

It can be very stressful to watch your parents decline both physically and mentally. Their need for help can create unexpected financial challenges for you and your family. Making sure your financial house is in order will put you in a stronger position to be able to handle any stress, and help minimize the financial burden on you.

For your own future, it’s important to keep focused on your retirement savings strategy and other savings goals you have.

Obtain and organize the information

Depending upon how openly your family discusses money, discussing finances with your parents may be uncomfortable. However, the need to care for your parents can happen suddenly, so understanding your parents’ financial situation is essential even before they may require your help.

Start by working with your parents to create a profile of their finances. Research the benefits they are entitled to and whether they are currently receiving all of these benefits. A clear understanding will help you determine if you may need to provide financial assistance. If you help provide for your parents financially, you may qualify for federal income tax benefits. It is best to work with a tax professional to determine your eligibility to claim these benefits.

Ask your parents for insurance records, medical and financial documentation. Make sure you have contact information for their personal advisors such as an attorney or an accountant. The more facts you have regarding your parents’ finances, the better equipped you will be when they can no longer care for themselves.

If you reach a time when your parents can no longer care for themselves, long-term care (LTC) options are something to consider. Do your parents plan on moving? Will they want in-home care when the time comes? The answers to questions like these will help to narrow down the right long-term care options for your parents.

Emotional intelligence plays a major role

It comes down to communication and collaboration. And while it can be stressful for all of you to have these types of conversations, it’s really the only way to ensure you have a better understanding of what they want.

You may be able to facilitate the conversation by expressing your desire to carry out their wishes and not to take over control of their finances. Explain that you want to partner with them in their planning. By including other trusted family members or joining your parents for meetings with their existing financial advisors, you can illustrate that you’re looking out for their best interests and not cutting them out of the decision-making process.

A professional can help you plan

Working with a financial professional can help you determine other sources of potential income, care benefits and the best options. Remember, creating a pro-active plan that meets the needs of you and your parents can help you manage a difficult situation with minimal disruption and difficulty.