Sometimes our parents appear to start aging rapidly right before our eyes. It can be a couple of months in between a visit, and all of a sudden, their hair is a little greyer, or they are walking a little more slowly up the stairs. It can somehow be a shock to us, despite the fact we know this is what happens as we get older.
If you start researching how to look after aging parents, you will be greeted with various articles that advise you to make a plan, but what does that entail?
This piece is here to show you exactly how to do that.
Prep Work is Key
As with many things in life, preparation is a key component of how successful something will be. Preparing for the talk, preparing for what you need in the plan, and preparing the actual discussion will all go hand in hand in its success.
Create a checklist of the topics you would like to discuss in the meeting, and ask others attending to do the same. This could be your siblings, close family friends, and your parents themselves if they are in a position to do so.
Personal Information and Records
Preparing for the worst will often involve acquiring accurate and detailed personal information from your parents if they cannot remember or use it themselves.
This information will likely be separated into different categories such as finance and health. Here is a checklist of some of the categories and lists you might want to consider.
Health is often a concern for us as our loved ones, and we get older, and somehow it can be harder to deal with when our parents might be struggling. To get ahead of any potential health issues, important document information you can easily access such as:
Medication – any current or past.
Doctors and designated surgery.
Health conditions or other health concerns to be aware of.
For those who are thinking of creating a more long-term plan, consider thinking about different types of assisted living or quality homes that your parents might like the look of if the time ever comes. Not only will you feel reassured that your parents are part of the process of choosing what they would like, but you will also know that if your parents need assisted care urgently after an accident or injury- you have already done your research into where is best for your parents. This bodes well for when our loved ones have to go into immediate care because if there is not a plan in place, it can be difficult to get access to a home of your choice or have the time to do your research before they need to be rehomed for their own safety. Have a look at companies such as Frontier Management who offer a variety of different assisted living options to suit them. You can also take a tour of the facilities together!
Finance can be a tricky thing and often a sensitive subject. Not only can it be difficult to relinquish control over our money and assets, but it can also feel like we are losing our independence. Try to avoid this at all costs and reassure your parents that you only need access to information when you need it.
Financial information could include:
Registered bank, all credit cards, bank cards, debit card details, and security information. Budgets, pensions, benefits.
With finance, the best thing to do is sit down with your parents and a financial adviser to determine the best course of action if you need to step in to help. This needs to be done before parents get old, especially those who are likely to develop age-related diseases that could cause them to forget information. Another financial task that will benefit anyone involved is streamlining bills. There is nothing worse than trying to locate different bills, accounts, and where the direct payments are being set up from when it comes to our own finances, let alone somebody else’s and their financial system – so getting them all grouped together and understood now will save a lot more hassle in the long run, which is exactly what you will want when the time comes.
Your parents will likely have insurance plans in place, and if they do not, then this definitely has to be on the list as a ‘to do’.
Gather up all information you have on insurance policies such as life, health, medical, long-term care, etc., and find out where these accounts are located and how they are accessed. Make sure you have contact information for the company chosen and whether a policy has been put in place or not. It is worth having a chat with the insurance advisor to see what policies are either in place so far or which would be beneficial to your family.
All of these policies need to be up to date and relative to your and your parent’s situation. An example of this might be considering investing in a Medigap policy which can help cover medical costs that long-term health insurance such as Medicare does not.
Your parents’ other insurances are likely to have could include home, car, and high-value item insurances for valuable belongings.
Legal documents are another ‘must’ to know about. Information about wills, estate plans, or trust plans will need to be in the right hands for if and when you need them. Ensure all of the plans reflect their current wishes, and feel free to check in with them every so often to make sure. Also, find out if they have an up-to-date, trusted chosen attorney for finance, health care, and any other important sectors.
While this might not seem like the most fun way to spend a weekend, getting everyone’s affairs in order will allow for a more seamless transition into old age for everyone involved, and your future self will thank you!