Planning for the future becomes a “what if” game when you’re a senior. If you’re the adult child of an older loved one, these are topics you probably don’t relish talking about. No one wants to think about a parent needing extra help or having to go into assisted living. Who wants to find out if you have rehab services covered on your medical insurance? None of these are feel-good subjects, but it is necessary to discuss them and important that you know the answers.
Knowing your options or your parents’ options should something go wrong is like being forearmed for battle. I’ve interviewed hundreds of seniors who never wanted to leave their homes yet ended up having to find a place to live after a medical crisis. It left them feeling out of control and very scared. Their adult children had the burden of trying to find a place their parent could afford and hopefully enjoy living in. Many of them became overwhelmed at the get-go. There’s just so much to consider and sometimes their parent was in no condition to make such decisions.
Plan, Plan, Plan
It’s absolutely crucial that you know what your parent wants in case of an emergency. Will they want to go into assisted living or a private board and care home? What assets do they have that might cover alternative housing? Do they have long-term care insurance? How long will their medical insurance pay for assisted living, rehab or skilled nursing? Will they want to stay with you and how can you accommodate them? It’s so much better to know than to be left wondering just when everything is going wrong.
Paperwork Can Save You
Wills, living trusts, medical directives, and powers of attorney are all documents that should be in place before you need them. No one wants a parent’s life savings going mostly to the state. Do your parents want heroic measures taken to save their lives even if they’ll be on a machine forever? These are all questions to which you need to know the answers.
Do Your Homework, Then Have the Talk
The AARP website has an excellent information page on all the documents you will need in order to prepare for the future. Many of the forms are available right on their website. Print everything out for your parents to examine. Have a checklist handy to take notes on your parents’ preferences. These conversations may not be fun, but your parents will know how much you love them and want what’s best for them.
Don’t Drop the Ball
Follow through and make sure all their paperwork is completed and copies are made for doctors, their attorney, and the designated health care person. Documents should be kept in a very safe place and the responsible family members should know where they are.
Keep notes from your family talks. All these documents should be reviewed every few years and especially after the death of a spouse. Don’t wait until a health crisis happens before you plan for the future. It could save you and your loved ones from a lot of hard work and heartaches.