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How to Prepare for Taking Care of Your Parents

December 20, 2017
families

iStock-638287776.jpgCaring for elderly parents can be extremely stressful both personally and financially.  While you want the best care for your aging parents, professional care can become quite costly. For this reason, many adults are personally taking on the role as primary caregiver of their parents. In fact, a 2011 survey, conducted by the Bureau of Labor, indicated 39. 8 million people provided unpaid care for elderly parents.

If you are the primary caretaker of your aging parents, or if you will be in the future, it is vital that you start discussing financial items with them now. While most of us tend to be very private about our finances, there is certain financial and medical information that you need to know in case a crisis should ever arise. This is especially important in situations where one of your parents has been diagnosed with dementia, or other illnesses that cause deterioration of the memory. 

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, over $180 billion was spent on long-term care of the elderly in 2002; 21% of the $180 billion was paid out of pocket by an individual or family member. Getting a firm understanding of where your parents are financially, the type of care their insurance covers, and any legal aspects, can help prepare for their future care.

As a caregiver, you will likely be taking over your parents medical bills and living expenses. You may need to know where you can access your parent's financial records. This includes everything from who prepares their taxes, who advises them financially, what are their login ids and passwords, where do they bank, and from what source is their income derived.  This is also a good time to discuss how much debt they have, and what amount they spend each month on living expenses. 

New Call-to-actionAs a caregiver, you will also be in charge of their health care. This means that you will need to know what type of insurance they have. You will want to talk to them about what the insurance covers, including whether long-term care is covered should it ever become necessary. Many types of insurances, including Medicare, may assist with the cost of in home care for the elderly in some situations. This information is vital to making good decisions for your parents in terms of their care in the future, and it will protect you from paying unnecessary out of pocket expense.

Lastly, you will want to look at any legal aspects that may affect your aging parents. Discuss with them if they have a will or a trust. If so, who is to be given power of attorney when the time arrives? Ask them who represents them and if you have permission to speak to the attorney about their legal documents.

Providing care for elderly parents can be overwhelming. Being certain you understand their current financial situation can help you to avoid problems in the future, making it possible to focus on providing them the best care possible.

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Byron Ellis

Written by Byron Ellis

Byron is the Managing Director of The Woodlands, TX division of United Capital Financial Advisers, and a well-known financial educator. In addition to helping families with their financial life management, Byron is a weekly columnist that has the ability to turn complex topics into clear and interesting essays.

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