According to AARP, more than half of aging adults turning 65 years old will require long-term support and services (LTSS) in their lifetime. Yet, long-term care and other elder care issues are often overlooked for many families.
You may have avoided asking your parents questions about how an unforeseen illness would be managed or who is responsible for making medical or financial decisions if a loved one becomes incapacitated.
These are hard questions to ask and can be even more complicated to plan out, but elder care planning helps improve the quality of care, increases the chances of successfully aging in place and provides a network of support to face elder care issues confidently.
Below we provide some elder care planning basics to help you get started with your loved one and who to contact when your family is ready for professional assistance.
What is elder care planning?
Elder care planning focuses on long-term life planning as a way to protect family income and assets and help to use resources while your loved one is still living. Elder careplanning is different from estate planning, which focuses on allocating assets after a loved one has passed.
The care plan allows aging adults, caregivers, family members, and health professionals to all be on the same page regarding desires to live out later years and prepare for future health and care requirements.
When should you start planning?
Unfortunately, elder care planning is not generally treated as a priority. As a result, many important financial and health decisions are spontaneously made under duress.
As an adult child, you don’t need to wait until you witness mom or dad slowing down or an unforeseen incident occurs.
Talking about finances and health care can be difficult as they are sensitive topics. However, starting with small conversations early as possible can be more productive than scheduling a family meeting as the first mention of elder care planning.
Here are some additional tips for communicating with an aging parent.
Important Documents for Elder Care Planning
Three foundational documents assist in the elder care planning, including a living will, durable power of attorney for healthcare and financial power of attorney.
A living will provides legal instructions that provide medical care and treatments preferences. Additionally, a power of attorney designates a person to act in your parents’ place if ever mentally incapacitated.
The medical power of attorney is a health care directive that covers who will work with your loved one’s medical team to provide the care instructed. And the durable power of attorney for finances can completely manage your loved one’s financial affairs if incapacitated.
These documents are important elements of elder care planning, and your aging parents should understand the importance of these documents and utilize them to increase the quality of care.
Who can help with the planning process?
Elder care planning can be overwhelming as there are many considerations, but you don’t have to be an expert to help your parents start the planning process because there are many professionals that can help identify needs and explore elder care options.
Elder Law Attorneys
Elder law attorneys offer many services but focus on helping families plan for long-term care and healthcare needs. Your elder law attorney can also help your family draft important legal documents.
Financial planners are certified professionals that can help families prepare for the potential cost of care. Make sure you also consider a financial planner for yourself, as often providing assistance to a loved one or becoming a caregiver can impact your finances.
Geriatric Care Managers
Geriatric Care Managers are licensed professionals specializing in helping people identify elder care needs. Geriatric Care Managers provide various services, from evaluating in-home care needs to coordinating medical services.
For more information on geriatric care managers, review this resource from the National Institute on Aging.
Elder care planning is an important process that should not be avoided and discussed as early as possible with your loved ones.
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