Taking care of an aging parent can be a challenge, both emotionally and financially. In this video, I share some of the key questions to consider, the financial implications that need to be discussed when helping your aging parents, and share several resources to learn more.
Click here for the infographic and explore the hyperlinked resources.
You can find more by visiting this article: 40 Resources for Adult Children Caring for Aging Parents. If you’re looking to partner with someone to walk alongside you as you support your aging parent, I welcome the conversation.
If you prefer to read along, you can find the content below:
Today, I want to talk to those of you who are heading up care for your parents as they age. This tends to be one of the more difficult transitions my client families face. I wanted to bring you into our conversations as we plan and discuss some considerations you may want to keep in mind as you navigate this time.
First, why is this important to think about?
- 7 out of 10 people will require long-term care in their lifetime – 70% are pretty high odds.
- The average monthly care cost can range from $5,000 to $12,000 or higher, depending on where you live and the level of care needed.
- And we’ll need to be spending that monthly amount, on average, for 2-4 years which can total anywhere between $120k – $575k. So this is obviously a critical life transition to plan for mindfully.
Some of the questions you want to be thinking through are:
- What income sources does your parent currently have, and will any of them change?
- Pensions can have end dates, and investment withdrawals may need to change.
- What types of insurance does your parent have, and what do the policies cover?
- Medicare, long-term care, and anything in between.
- Does your parent need the support of your resources at this time, and if so, which ones?
- In these situations, it’s important to remember that financial resources and support aren’t the only things we need to plan for. In many cases, it’s your time that is needed, and we should be talking about whether the process of making space for that time has a financial tether. In-home respite care for a few hours is a great example of this.
- Will your parent age in place? If so, do we need to talk about safety modifications around the home like a ramp or grab bars?
- Will they instead need to move to a retirement, skilled nursing, or memory care community? If so, will that be near you? What role might your siblings play, if any?
- Does cognitive decline run in your family? This is an important question when determining what type of care and which one of those communities might be most appropriate to consider.
As we think through these questions, I invite my client families to help identify any financial implications of this transition:
- How will day-to-day expenses and cash flow needs change?
- What benefits will current insurance coverage provide, and do we need to look at other options?
- Long-term care insurance – if you only know one thing about long-term care insurance, it’s probably that it’s expensive. But in some cases, it’s vital and particularly worth exploring for those who have a history of cognitive decline.
- Hybrid policies have grown in popularity, which are essentially life insurance policies with a long-term care element to them.
- Short-term recovery care can be an alternative to long-term care policies; they’re often far less expensive with no elimination period (that is, a waiting period before the policy starts to pay benefits). The drawback is that the care lasts just twelve months, as the name ‘short-term’ implies.
- If we do need long-term care, what type do we need? We can never answer the question of ‘how long will we need it’, but we can use some of the averages I mentioned at the open and family history to help guide decisions.
- Often, this transition requires updates to the estate plan, trustee/successor trustee roles, and beneficiary designations.
- Considering whether any changes need to be made to your or your parent’s investments to ensure money is allocated prudently given these changes.
- And, in some cases, your parent’s health transition can impact your career, retirement, and other long-term goals, so it’s important to plan for that in a way that doesn’t upend what you have worked so hard for.
Some resources to support your learning around this:
- I love this cost-of-care estimator from Genworth. It allows you to enter your location and get specific details on the median monthly costs for at-home, assisted living, and nursing home care. Very useful for preliminary planning.
- Eldercare.com is a resource for finding professional elder care near you and is particularly useful if you’re looking for someone to provide in-home care.
- Seniorliving.org is a robust website with several resources to support you and your parent as you navigate this time.
- The Administration of Community Living is a site centered around the principle that everyone should have choices in where they live, including as they age. This can feel like a time of limited choices, and it’s important for you and your parent to maintain autonomy.
- Finally, the Stanford Center on Longevity has an incredible article library with resources that dive into your specific concerns.
And finally, here are three books to support your heart through this transition:
At its best, financial planning covers emotional and practical elements of what you’re facing. So please don’t discount this important aspect.
- The first is Being Mortal – I think this book should be required reading for all human beings.
- The next is The Conscious Caregiver. This book’s full name is “The Conscious Caregiver: A mindful approach to caring for your loved one without losing yourself.” So that may give you some insight into what’s covered there.
- And finally, Role Reversal: How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents. Make sure you’re putting on your oxygen mask before you help others.
Aside from having children and retirement, walking alongside your parent through this season of life is one of the biggest transitions you can face. I welcome a conversation if you don’t want to do it alone. Take care of yourself, and be well.