Vail Daily column: Start a conversation about your aging parents’ needs
Over the years, I have been asked by a number of my friends for guidance in helping them figure out how to help their parents. One of the first questions I ask in response is, “What’s your relationship with your parent(s)?”
Addressing issues about your parent’s health, financial, and future plans (or lack of plans) for their senior years is often precarious at best. The conversation is going to have to address such topics as: power of attorney, medical/durable power of attorney, estate planning, and financials along with a number of others that are quite personal. (A regular power of attorney ends when its purpose is fulfilled or at incapacity or death.)
My suggestion as the first step is to find out how much they’ve prepared for their future and health, legally and financially. Find out if they have long-term care insurance, and if not, how they plan on paying for nursing home care or in-home help if necessary. You may want to ask, given a choice, if they want to remain at home or if they would choose an independent living community. Do they have an estate plan, family trust or other means of protecting their assets?
A GOOD WAY TO START THE TALK
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A good recommendation for starting such conversations is to tell your parents that you are starting to do planning for yourself and your family and want to know what they may have done to plan for themselves. Should they have plans intact, the conversation for the future may be somewhat easier. However, should they indicate they have only tinkered in plans for their future, you can always say that you have researched a bit for yourself and family and want to know if you can share with them what you have learned.
Following are a few topics of discussion that should be noted for both yourself and your parents:
• Can you afford to stay in your home on your retirement budget?
• Can you manage the stairs or would you do better on one level?
• Does your home have any safety hazards?
• Should you think about living somewhere else?
• Do your living expenses fall within your savings and/or earnings from investments?
• Are there funds allocated to pay for having a person help you remain independent and at home?
• Will Medicare, Social Security, or a pension provide enough funding to enable you to live at an assisted living facility?
• What health problems do you have?
• Can you afford your prescriptions?
• Does your health insurance pay all your medical bills?
• Will your finances be such that Medicare or Medicaid will help?
Somewhere within the conversation, you should encourage your parents to organize all their personal information in a place that they disclose to you. Items such as a will, power of attorney, DNR, banking accounts, safety deposit box and financials are all necessary components of a plan for the future.
Later this summer, in conjunction with a number of medical providers and senior service providers, I will be offering a symposium that will include such topics as how to help your senior parents and how to prepare yourself and family for the senior years.
Last year’s symposium was held in conjunction with the Eagle County Senior Fair. There were in excess of 60 people who attended. Space at this year’s symposium will be limited. Please call the office number below if you are interested in attending this year’s symposium.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.