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What Everyone Should Know About Caring For Aging Parents



It's a difficult time in theirs and in your life. Here's what experts suggest to make it more manageable – and cheaper.

You may have a plan for your own pension – but do you have a plan to help an elderly parent through their retirement years?

If you do not, it's time to start thinking, prioritizing, and having some potentially difficult conversations with Mom and Dad. Organizing a family reunion can help everyone prepare when it's time to take care of an elderly parent or an aging family member.

"Most adult children do not realize that their parents will need financial or caring support as they grow older and that they will likely be the ones to provide that support," says Cameron Huddleston, author of Mother and Dad , we need to talk: How to have important conversations with your parents about their finances .

Since Haven Life is about affordable life insurance, we will immediately make sure your elderly parent has enough life insurance to cover things like funeral expenses are an important part of the care planning process. "Debts can be passed on to adult children if their parents do not have sufficient life insurance to pay off these debts," explains Andrea Woroch, a money-saving expert who helps women prepare for their families' financial needs.

That said, even the best life insurance policies may not prepare you for all the challenges associated with caring for aging parents. We contacted three financial experts to teach you what to expect as your parents age – and how you can help your parents navigate their retirement years in a way that gives them the most choices and options.

In this article: [19659010] Aging in place can be more challenging than you realize

If you ask your parents how they would like to spend their older years, they can say something along the lines of "aging in place" – that is, to stay in the family home for as long as possible. This means that a primary care provider may need to enter their home to provide the elderly care that aging adults need.

"Aging at home is a dream, but it's very difficult," said Jacqui Clark, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and aging expert with Aging Well Partners and CarePatrol.

Huddleston agrees. "Seven out of ten adults who survive to age 65 will need long-term care, according to the Department of Health and Human Services." While those statistics can evoke images of nursing homes and medical facilities, be aware that skilled professional care is extremely expensive – many facilities cost between $ 50,000 – $ 100,000 per year – and your parents may stop aging on the spot just because it is the most affordable option.

"Most people in need of care rely on family members to provide that care," says Huddleston, "often because they cannot afford professional care."

This means that adult children must be prepared. for reality to become their parents' main caregiver – and to start planning for that reality while their parents are still relatively young, healthy and able to make decisions that will affect their later lives.

Make choices now that will give you more choices later

"If you do not make choices now, you will not have the choices you want in the future," says Clark. "How you plan is how you age."

What does this mean for you and your parents? In some cases, this may mean that you check if your parents or aging relatives have benefits for riders – such as long-term care insurance or the option to waive premiums if the policyholder becomes disabled – are added to their life insurance. In other cases, it may mean that we have conversations about budgeting, nutrition and the importance of being active.

"We all age differently depending on what we did earlier in our lives," Clark explains, noting that people who post the proactive. Efforts to stay healthy as they age often have better long-term results.

You should also consider making choices that help your parents stay financially healthy as they age – and give you the ability to help manage your parents' finances as needed. "If you are feeling well, consider buying long-term care insurance or life insurance with a long-term care for your parents to pay for the care if they need it," advises Huddleston. She also suggests asking your parents to draw up a list of all their financial accounts, insurance policies, property planning documents and so on. This list should include account passwords and contact information for all agents, accountants or attorneys associated with the accounts.

If your aging family member does not feel comfortable sharing their financial information with you right now, ask them if they might consider organizing it anyway – at least. "They can join the list, but ask them to tell you how to access it and under what circumstances you can access it."

Have difficult conversations as early as possible

When is the best time to start talking to your parents or aging relatives about what they might want and / or need as they age? "The right time was yesterday," says Clark, noting that children should begin these often difficult conversations, not only while their parents are still healthy, but also while their parents can still make active choices that can give them more options – and a better experience. – later

Huddleston agrees. “Conversations with your parents about their finances need to take place while they are relatively young and healthy. That means talking to them in the 50s. “These conversations can begin with a discussion of your parents' retirement plans, but should also include questions about long-term goals and long-term care. Adult children can use these conversations to help their parents plan for anything that may happen as they grow older, while gathering information that can help them prepare for potential problems along the line.

“If you wait until a health crisis makes it necessary to get involved in your parents' finances, you may not have a legal right to access their accounts and pay their bills or make health care decisions for them if they have not already appointed you to their financial or caring power of attorney, ”Huddleston explains. “If you wait until your parents show signs of needing financial help, you may not have taken steps to get your finances to help them. And if you wait until your parents need long-term care before talking to them about it, you will probably find out that you are your parents' long-term care.

Know when it's time to go in [19659011] Many parents can either discourage their children's necessary questions or actively refuse their children's help, provided they are fully capable of taking care of themselves. How do you know when it's time to come in and / or take over?

"Look for a development / deterioration of health", advises Clark. "The first thing [parents] needs help with is usually housekeeping, cooking, shopping and / or errands." While many adult children can help their parents handle these daily tasks without getting too involved or taking away too much of their parents' independence, you know that it is the first step in a long time to help your parents create a food delivery service. care process – and that you will probably play an active role in your parents' daily care sooner than you realize.

"Medication management is the tipping point for decline," says Clark, noting that when parents can no longer take necessary medications on schedule, it's time for adult children to come in – and be ready to increase. “When drug management is needed, it is a red flag with major changes that will come. Next can be mobility problems and then cognitive problems. Sometimes the last three come at the same time.

Even if your parents remain both mobile and cognitively alert, you still want to be prepared to go in – especially if your parents are likely to make poor financial decisions. which could limit their opportunities in the future.

"Even if your parents are financially well off and staying healthy, you may still need to get involved in their finances as they get older as financial decision-making declines as part of the natural aging process," Huddleston explains. This means that you may need to spend time helping older parents keep track of their finances and avoid falling victim to scams and frauds. Trust me, as your parents age, you will spend a lot of time helping them ward off fraudsters.

Prioritizing Your Financial Needs

Helping your parents keep track of their finances can be challenging enough – and many adult children find themselves in the dual challenge of balancing their own financial needs against those of their parents. A new study from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research revealed that 80 percent of caregivers cover at least part of the costs out of their own pocket, with 43 percent of these caregivers withdrawing money from personal savings and 23 percent reducing their pension contributions.

How can you prioritize your own financial needs when your parents may need you to prioritize theirs? As with all aspects of long-term care, it is best to start preparing for any financial issues as early as possible. "Get your finances in order by paying off debts, building an emergency fund, saving for retirement and having adequate insurance before you have to take on the role of caregiver," advises Huddleston.

Woroch agrees – and reminds us that prioritizing pension savings now could prevent our children from being in a similar financial bond in the future. “You need to prioritize your retirement savings if you have children so that you do not continue the trend of putting your financial burdens on your children. This can mean that you postpone college savings – your children can take out a loan for college but you can not take out a loan for retirement!

Focusing on your own financial security can even help you have some of the difficult but necessary conversations with your parents – especially if you start early. "There are different ways that adult children can start talking to their parents about their parents' finances before an emergency," Huddleston said. “You could mention, for example, that you recently bought life insurance and wondered what type of coverage your parents had. You can also use a current event such as a pandemic to ask about the type of contingency planning they have done and whether they have legal documents such as a will, power of attorney and advance on the health directive or living will be prepared.

The more you share your own financial priorities, the more your parents can open up about theirs – which may be the best way to find solutions that balance everyone's needs.

Understand how your demographics can affect your care experience

Care is not a "one size fits one" experience, as Jacqui Clark puts it – and it is important to consider how your age, demographic and cultural background can make your care process different from others.

“My mother was Mexican, my father Irish. My Mexican culture dictates that we take care of our parents in the end no matter what, and I and my three sisters did, ”Clark explains. “My mother left dementia in 2019 and my parents did not have the resources to pay for private services if she needed them. We were lucky enough to keep her at home, but that was because her four daughters and my dad, plus my sister's husbands and her grandchildren all put in. "

" There is an expectation in many cultures that children will take care of their parents as they age, "states Huddleston. "Relying on paid professional care is out of the question – even if parents or children can pay for that care."

If the parents or children cannot afford the care costs – either at home or in a skilled care facility – the care service becomes even more complicated. "Adult children who are struggling financially will be placed extra hard because they cannot afford to leave a job to care for a parent," says Huddleston. Fortunately, there are government benefits, such as Medicaid (but not Medicare) and veteran benefits, that can help cover the cost of long-term care for low-income adults. So I would recommend that anyone struggling financially to see what benefits their parents may get to reduce the financial burden for them. "

If you belong to a minority demographic or a culture that has been historically acquitted you probably already know that your care process can be more difficult and / or more complex. The American Psychological Association recently released a study entitled African American Elderly Adults and Race-Related Stress and noted that “Limited access to community resources (eg grocery stores, pharmacies, culturally competent providers of health and aging services, transportation , housing, etc.) contributes significantly to the experience of race-related stress and creates barriers to achieving healthy and productive aging. ”

Huddleston agrees. Research has shown that family care is more common and more intensive for minorities . Minority caregivers also tend to have more health problems than other caregivers as a result of their care services. I believe that it is very important for minority carers – and all caregivers – to develop a strong support system. Do not assume that you have to do it alone.

If you share care responsibilities with siblings, try to build a shared support system as soon as possible. If adult children with siblings do not agree in advance to work as a team, they may argue about who takes on an unfair share of the care burden, regardless of whether one sibling makes a larger financial contribution or another sibling makes the bulk of home care.

To mitigate some of these arguments, Woroch suggests dividing responsibilities based on ability, closeness, and similar factors. "For siblings who do not live nearby and cannot provide physical care, they may be able to help manage household expenses and bills," explains Woroch. "For siblings who cannot provide financial support, perhaps they can do more of the personal care, drive to / from meetings, handle bills and household chores, etc."

Finally, a brief note on the sandwich generation – that is, the no longer-limited-to-a-one-generation demographic for adults who care for both parents and children at the same time. In 2020, Haven Life released a Sandwich Generation Report which showed that 80% of sandwich generation members feel "overwhelmed often or constantly." More than half of the respondents reported that they adjusted their pension targets in response to care responsibilities.

"Taking care of children while caring for an aging parent exacerbates the stress of being a caregiver", says Huddleston – and Haven Life's report showed that the majority of survey respondents wanted some form of long-term support to help them deal with this stress, including regular interactions with a mental health professional.

If you are trapped – or if you expect to be trapped in the future – take our advice and start planning now. Get your finances where they need to be, have the difficult conversations with your parents (and the potentially difficult conversations with your children about changes in your household budget and / or university savings plans) and do your best to create a social and psychological support network that can help you to deal with the challenges ahead.

Because if there is one thing that everyone should know about caring for aging parents, it is that it will be much more challenging than you realize. [19659061] Our Editorial Policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency supported and wholly owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and general well-being can be refreshingly easy.

Our Editorial Policy

Haven Life is a customer-centered life insurance agency supported and owned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe that navigating life insurance decisions, your personal finances and your general health can be refreshingly easy.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not support the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less difficult if they suit your situation.

Haven Life does not have the right to provide tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to be provided and should not be relied upon for tax, legal or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seek advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our information

Haven Term is a term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by the Massachusetts Mutual. Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Life Insurance Issue (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by C.M. Life Insurance Companies, Enfield, CT 06082. Numbers and functions for insurance forms and riders may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our California agency license number is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

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