Writer Sandra Spence | Photography Supplied
As our parents age, they may become more dependent on their children and extended family for both physical and financial support. When it’s your turn to help take care of the folks who were once your care givers, here are a few tips to help you be a great guardian, without going broke.
1. UNDERSTAND THEIR FINANCIAL SITUATION
No matter what, caring for elderly parents will cost money. You will need to ﬁnd out how well your parents have prepared for retirement with savings and investments including Social Security, IRAs, 401Ks, etc. You will need to think about future care, medicine, supplies and very importantly, you must consider where your parents will live, and how much it will cost.
2. GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
Most people have no experience in caring for the elderly, and are unaware of how complex it can become. Fortunately, professional guidance is not hard to ﬁnd. Consider getting a care manager to assess your situation. These professionals work with families to determine the best course of action for housing, legal services and other necessary considerations. A good resource is the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. (www.caremanager.org). You will also need to ﬁnd an attorney to guide you regarding a living will, healthcare proxy and other legal issues, on your parent’s behalf.
3. LEARN ABOUT MEDICARE AND MEDICAID.
Most younger people assume that the standard programs will cover an elderly person’s healthcare when the time comes. Alas, they don’t. Medicare for instance, in most situations, will cover hospital, medical and prescription drug costs, but it will not cover nursing home stays. Medicaid will take care of nursing home expenses, but only for people who have exhausted most of their assets. The limitations of these programs often come as a shock to children, so do your research and know the facts.
4. GET THE FAMILY INVOLVED
If you have siblings or other willing family members, don’t try to do it on your own. Enlist help from other relatives to help ensure that it’s a family effort.
5. MAKE YOUR OWN RETIREMENT PLAN
Consider your own ﬁnancial situation carefully. How will your future be affected by your new role as a caretaker? Are you able to live comfortably if you are unable to work? Planning for yourself is just as important as planning for your parents. Seek advice from a qualiﬁed adviser to prepare for a stable future and a good quality of life for your parents.
Sandra Spence is the VP of Advertising and Public Relations at We Florida Financial Credit Union