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Discussing Plans for the Future with an Aging Parent

Talking to your parents about needing help in the future can be a difficult discussion, especially when they are currently healthy and independent. It is important to be proactive and have these conversations prior to your parents’ situation necessitating the discussion. A few of the first step topics you can touch on with you loved ones are as follows:

Ask about their financial security

Money can be a tricky topic to broach, a lot of people don’t like to discuss it, but if you come from a position of concern, your loved one may feel more comfortable.

What do your everyday expenses look like? Is there enough money coming in monthly to cover the essentials? If they are struggling to stay current with bills or pay off debts, you might consider helping them come up with a budget that is conducive the income that they have, or referring them to a professional that can help them get a handle on their expenses. 

Are important documents easily accessible? In case of emergency, it is important that a trusted person be able to locate important documents such as insurance policies, financial statements, trust paperwork, and wills. If they don’t have everything filed in one place, suggest helping them collect and store the documents for safekeeping.

Do they have a complete estate plan? Most likely, chances are that your parents have a will and possibly some asset titling in place, however, these aren’t the only items that should be included. It is important that health care directives and power of attorney are established and documented. Inquire if there are any legal documents that they’ve had prepared that specify how to manage their financial and healthcare decisions should they be unable to do so themselves.

Discuss future living arrangements

Some people want to live in their homes for as long as they can, while others are open to exploring options for independent living communities. Ask your parents if they’ve thought about each option and what that means for their plans for living arrangements moving forward. Position this conversation as an exploration of future possibilities to lessen the pressure.

Plan ahead for long term care

Depending upon your parents’ vision for future living arrangements, the options for long-term care and the financial decisions that come along with it greatly vary. Of course not everyone will need long-term care, however, if this is an option that needs to be explored it is important to understand all that comes along with it. If your parents already have long-term care insurance, understand what it will cover, how much they can afford, and whether you might need to supplement any costs.

When it comes to discussing future plans with family, the most important thing to remember is to be open and honest. The more mutual understanding there is about both emotional and financial matters, the more you and your family will be able to enjoy the present.

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