Younger people may not be aware of how difficult it will be to be the primary caretaker of a sick parent. I will guess that many of you in your 20s,30s, and 40s are floating around worrying about your own life. However, if you have parents, and many of you do:), you need to be thinking about what you would do if you were called to be the caretaker/decision-maker for a sick parent.
And strangely, I am observing more cases, anecdotally as it may be, of people in their 50s being diagnosed with early stage dementia-related diseases. And that is one thing you hope your parents never get because the process is long and emotionally painful.
A few resources to help you prepare just in case. These are articles are also good just to picture life issues from an older person’s perspective.
Here is a great article to just set your perspective on thinking about your parents. As many young people never stop to think that their parents were once young (and fun!), this article is a good eye-opener – Danielle Morrill: Solve the Problem Your Parents Have
Some of you make think your parents have money, but their home may be their largest (and only) significant asset! NY Times blog explains some of the dynamics and be prepared if you have “the talk” with your mom or dad and find out they’re not doing well financially. New York Times: Many Relying on Home Equity for Retirement
AARP has a cool short blogpost on what to do if you are an only child caretaker; the author points out that it may be easier since there would be no sibling squabbling over what to do with mom. Having to take the full burden though would NOT be easy.
Planning for health care costs in retirement can be onerous – this is a good article on how to factor that in, and even though the article is geared to a healthy person in retirement, a disabled/ill person and their planning child can still benefit – IBD – Healthcare in retirement (or my article: Healthcare Costs – Like Paying for a Retirement Home)
If you are responsible for Downsizing your parent’s home, stuff, life etc, my company site has good resources as we focus on downsizing in retirement whether it’s a lifestyle change or for health reasons – Transition Planning WHA
If you are trying to talk your parents into getting long term care insurance, or if you are deciding whether to pay for it, then choosing a financially solid company makes sense due to the turmoil in the industry. Here’s an article on that. InvestmentNews: Health of Long Term Care Insurance Business Questionable – Moodys
If your mom or dad needs a nursing home, it makes sense to investigate the facility – its financial strength, its history of care (and care violations), is it non profit or for profit? Bloomberg outlined an article on for profit nursing homes and it was not flattering. And I’m not saying they’re all bad but Bloomberg quotes a federal study showing that they tend to over-bill. Bloomberg: For profit Nursing Homes Lead in Overcharging…; and here’s another from SmartMoney: 10 Things Assisted-Living Homes Won’t Tell You
If your mom or dad is not wealthy, it’s likely they explored or even planned to be purposely “poor” in order to qualify for Medicaid. Short primer – Medicaid is a poverty program so in order to qualify for the program to have the state pay for nursing homes costs (or as some seniors say, “so the state doesn’t take my money!!!” ahhh perpectives…) one must remove assets from one’s ownership – this is often accomplished through legal techniques such as trusts, life estates, gifting and annuitizing lump sums. Here is an AdvisorOne article: To Use Medicaid for LTC, Clients Give Away Wealth, Advisors Say – that could help you understand that process better. (my article: Are You Counting on Home Equity to Retire? could be helpful too).
And lastly, don’t be a schmuck – don’t be the financial vampire kid that drains their parents’ finances as outlined in my article (and the WSJ): WSJ: Don’t Let Grown Kids Ruin Your Retirement
There! I hope you now have a bit more perspective from your parents’ point of view. Drop any comments in the box below I’d enjoy hearing what you think, what you’re going through, and how this might or does affect you. Thanks!