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Tips on creating a clear care plan for your loved one
The most important thing in planning? Do so in advance. We’re very good at saving for college, planning for mortgage and tax payments, investing in an IRA, but when it comes to planning for the care of an aging loved one, too often we don’t have a plan until there is a problem. If our parents are elderly, but healthy and are still living independently, we tend to not worry, but realistically that reality could change overnight with a medical emergency and the need for long-term care, or a sudden, unexpected death.
Putting together a caregiving plan for your loved ones and other family members now, versus later, can eliminate problems at home and at work in the future, if and when a once-independent parent needs more consistent care. In the middle of an emergency, we don’t always make the best decisions, let alone the decisions our parents may want; there can also be a lot of family tension and financial strain. With a plan in place this stress can be mitigated.
Most importantly, with advance planning, parents can decide their future while they can. They can choose what they want, where they want to be. They are in fact the most affected by a crisis so we need to know – in advance – what their wishes and priorities are. They need to be an integral part of the planning process. Before it’s too late. No one likes the idea of having no control over their future.
Planning Ahead for Parental Care
AARP has one of the best brochures, available online, called “Prepare to Care.” 1 It outlines five steps, and includes worksheets, sample conversations with tips on
how to tackle difficult conversations around care, as well as help with needs assessment.
Caring for an Aging Parent
Two final messages on aging parental care: financial planning is essential, as is making your parents a part of the process (sooner versus later) and respecting their wishes as best you can.
One of the biggest impacts can be the financial burden while caring for aging parents – for them and for you. Paying for unexpected health costs, nursing home stays, or long-term care can wipe out a senior’s savings in a matter of months.
Nursing home costs can be astronomical. A new study from insurance giant Genworth Financial found that a private room in a nursing home averages out to $267 per day or $8,121 a month, up 5.5 percent from the year before. 2 Semi-private rooms are not far behind, at $7,148 a month on average. Overall, long-term care costs rose by 4.5 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to Genworth.
Experts agree that it is important to start thinking about caregiving costs now. Start saving and accruing resources now, take out affordable insurance policies while you can, and plan ahead for a thoughtful drawdown of assets.
Thinking through one’s wishes, preferences, and values is no small thing. Put yourself in your parent’s shoes. Make sure your parents have the tools they need to make wise decisions and yes, they should feel it is their decision, not yours.