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Elder Care Costs - Dollars and Sense - Aging Wisely


Adult children often find themselves faced with concerns about a parent’s finances. This is one of the first areas that may become overwhelming when facing health challenges or memory impairments. Not only is this a difficult subject to broach, it is challenging to determine the best ways to handle these issues including when to become involved, how to assist, the legal and financial ramifications, and how to get parents to accept help when it is needed. We are often taught it isn’t polite to ask someone how much they make, what they’ve saved, or what their material possessions cost. However, when it comes to family, we should reconsider these values. By not discussing finances, we often face larger problems down the road.

Having open dialogue about finances before it becomes a critical issue is essential. It may be helpful to initiate these conversations around a relevant life-event, such as a friend’s move to a nursing home or the illness of a relative, or to discuss your own wishes and plans should you become incapacitated or die suddenly. Approach the discussion from a helpful, respectful position and make sure the setting and participants are appropriate. You should prepare properly, understand and listen to concerns, and involve siblings. It is important that your parents know you are offering help, but not trying to take control out of their hands. Understand that many rational and emotional fears may play into their acceptance.

By having an open dialogue, parents may be more likely to engage you when having difficulty or you may more easily recognize signs that it is time to help. Failing health or early memory loss are two triggers to step in with some assistance. Handling financial affairs quickly becomes overwhelming and it does not take long for things to decline rapidly. If you are unsure about such issues, a geriatric care manager is uniquely positioned to help you assess the situation, talk to your loved one about options and transitions, and coordinate a system for dealing with finances.

Because there are many options to consider, one of the wisest moves you and your parent can make is talking to professionals and educating yourselves on the implications of the various options. Many financial professionals have extensive experience with these issues and elder law attorneys specialize in the legal issues involved. Think of a geriatric care manager as an expert consultant who can help you assess the situation and determine the best steps to take. Care managers have a wealth of experience and can suggest innovative solutions which are most appropriate and acceptable to your loved one.


KEY ISSUES TO DISCUSS: Some of the most important items to discuss with your parents include: the location of important papers, contact information for key professionals (attorneys, CPA, financial planner, banker), general financial picture and options for financing care needs, how they wish financial matters to be handled should they become unable, and when that might become necessary. Click here for a “Document Locator List” for more information on key documents to organize.

LEGAL/FINANCIAL TOOLS: There are many practical ways to assist someone with their finances. One of the simplest is setting up a joint account with your parents, enabling you to pay their bills. Although this can be an excellent tool, it can present tax and estate complications. Additionally, you may become representative payee to receive and disburse funds for various benefits such as social security, VA benefits, and pensions. Contact the relevant agency for the necessary forms and instructions. A durable Power of Attorney is an excellent tool and an important part of the planning process. By making the document durable it stays in effect even if the person becomes incapacitated. An attorney can advise you on the wording granting relevant powers and how to properly execute this document in your state. Other options include living trusts and managed accounts, which may also involve professional money managers. In the event that some of these arrangements have not been made, it may become necessary to proceed with Guardianship, which is the legal process of declaring someone incapacitated and assigning certain rights to a court-appointed guardian, which may be a family member or professional.

Aging Wisely’s “Essential Eldercare Checklist” covers items you should review, important documents and steps to take at different stages of eldercare and caregiving. Grab your free copy today!

Our professional care managers can help you navigate eldercare cost issues, refer you to key professionals for personal advice and help you create a “game plan” so you don’t overlook important eldercare financial and cost issues. Give us a call at 727-447-5845 or click below to schedule a consultation:

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