Caring for parents as they age presents any number of emotional pitfalls, and amid the responsibilities that come with caregiving, there’s also the practical aspect of ensuring that your loved one has their documents and affairs updated.
It’s not a fun task, and it can involve awkward conversations about finances and the future, but in addition to the day-to-day appointments, medications and needs that arise for your loved one, it’s important to have big picture conversations as well. In this blog we’ll examine a few of those topics you need to consider.
“Do you have a power of attorney in place?”
Granting someone power of attorney is a legally binding document that allows the person with that designation to make decisions about your affairs should you become incapable of doing so. While it typically refers to financial decisions, you can also have a power of attorney to make medical decisions as well. They can be separate people or the same person.
Often, the adult child caregiver will have power of attorney for their parent. If that is you, have clear conversations with your parent or loved one about their wishes, both financial and health-wise. If it’s someone else, meet with them and ensure their understanding of your loved one’s plans are in line with yours so there’s no confusion.
However, as noted above – power of attorney is a legal designation and must be registered as such with the appropriate agencies in your state. Because of that, there can be no grey area when it comes to granting someone that responsibility; an oral agreement will not be binding.
“Do you have a will?”
If a power of attorney helps with affairs while someone is still alive, the will directs how to distribute their assets and finances to their beneficiaries after they pass. By having a will, it clearly directs how any assets are to be distributed and ostensibly prevents any disagreements or abuse among those left behind.
If your parent or loved one has a will, ensure it is up to date. It may have been several years since it had been written, and perhaps their wishes or circumstances have changed. If they don’t have a will, work with them to have one done so as not to leave any confusion about what to do when they do pass.
Like the power of attorney, a will is a legal document and should be done in conjunction with a lawyer and finalized appropriately.
“What kind of insurance do you have?”
In this case, there are several types of insurance to keep in mind. Your aging parent or loved one may have Medicare benefits, but are there additional healthcare insurance options they either need, or are eligible for? What about dental insurance? Older adults often need specialized dental care, which can be expensive without the right kind of insurance.
There’s also long-term care insurance in the event they can no longer live in their own home, and of course items like car insurance if they’re still driving.
Collecting and updating this information can save an aging loved one a significant amount of money in both the short and long term.
“Where can I find your important documents?”
Before you can confirm if your parent or loved one has the documents they need, or if they’re updated, you need to know where they are. It might be that their documents aren’t in any kind of order. Maybe they’re in a lockbox or safe deposit box at the bank. Maybe they’re in a shoebox in the back of a closet.
Everybody has different means of tracking their documents, and as a caregiver you need to be able to have access to them. Whether they’re in a secure location or the back of a drawer, make sure you know where they are, take inventory of them, and see if they’re updated.
While these can be delicate topics, ultimately having these conversations will best allow your loved ones to live in comfort and relieve stress for both them and you.
Of course, the topic of senior living is another area where families need to have honest conversations. At Prestige Senior Living, our team members understand how to approach the topic with both older adults and their loved ones. If you’re ready to get started, contact the community nearest you to schedule a tour.