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Are you prepared to care for your aging parents?

As a primary caregiver, you need to start the conversation now to avoid problems later.

Three in four older adults want to stay in their homes as they age, according to AARP. And 85% of adult children prefer that for their aging parents, too, according to Senior Helpers.

Here are six steps to help you and your parents prepare, so you’re both ready when they need assistance.

1. Talk with them.

Have a conversation with your parents now about how they want to live as they age, what kind of health care and lifesaving measures they do or don’t want, and who they want to have as Power of Attorney to make legal and medical decisions for them if they are unable to act for themselves.

Then, help them get the legal documents they need, like wills and trusts, to implement their wishes.

As part of the conversation, ask about their assets so you can confirm they have enough money to fulfill their desires and provide financial security.

2. Anticipate – and allocate – the workload.

When Mom or Dad need care, who will help? Usually, one adult child emerges as the primary caregiver. And that child – who may have to forego employment, incur a loss of income, alter their own life, and even suffer health issues of their own due to the burden of caregiving – can quickly build resentment toward siblings.

You can improve the situation by having everyone agree to take a role. Chores (transportation to appointments, household cleaning, cooking and managing financial affairs) can be distributed so no one person is overwhelmed.

If one caregiver contributes time, siblings and parents should contribute money. Caregivers who suffer a loss of income should be reimbursed by the parents (or siblings), perhaps via a greater share of the eventual inheritance.

Family circumstances differ widely, so find out what works best for your parents and then work hard to provide it. If some family members refuse to help, move on without them.

3. Check their health insurance coverage.

If your parents have Medicare, be sure they are enrolled in the supplemental program for prescription coverage.

4. Consider long-term care insurance for them.

Health insurance does not pay for long-term care expenses – and the $100,000 average annual cost in a nursing home can erase a lifetime of savings in just a few years.

If your parents don’t want or can’t afford a policy, it might make sense to consider paying for it yourself or sharing the costs with your siblings. Policy costs can vary greatly due to benefits provided and the age and health of those applying for coverage, so you might consider speaking with a financial planner before trying to make this decision.

5. Develop a financial plan to help ensure security.

When developing your financial plan, you are probably focused on your own spending needs. Make sure, then, that your plan includes the ability for you to help your parents with their financial needs. When you retire in your 60s, you could have parents (or in-laws) in their 80s or 90s who need financial support – and you’ll want to provide it without placing your own financial security at risk.

6. Have them obtain estate planning documents.

Help your parents obtain wills, and Advanced Medical Directives from an estate attorney.

Talk with a Financial Advisor

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