Taking care of your aging parents
As parents get older, some of the responsibility for ensuring that they are safe and protected just naturally shifts to children or another younger family member. While older folks may feel like this is a burden, and balk at having their kids “take care” of them in any way, it’s good to remember that Mom and Dad looked after us for years – even decades, in some cases – so giving back by ensuring that they are always safe and secure is not only kind, but a wonderful way to say thank you.
It isn’t always easy when it becomes clear that it’s time to step in, so one of the best things you can do is make sure that your parent knows that you’re not trying to take control of their affairs or bully them into any decisions they may not be comfortable making just yet.
Let them know that they are still in charge of their lives and their decisions, but you simply want to have all the information you need to ensure that they are always safe and protected. Remind them that in the event of an unforeseen situation, it’s vital for someone else to have certain critical information and details about their finances, health and estate planning.
Bring a notepad along so you can jot down the answers to the questions below, or print out this form and simply fill it out as you talk with your parents. Always keep the collected information in a safe place and update it regularly as needed.
According to Kurt Kazanowski, a hospice, homecare and senior care expert, in an article from the winter 2016 issue of Silver and Gold, the following ten questions are important to ask your aging parents:
- Where do you keep your important financial records and documents?
- Where are the keys and codes for any lock boxes or safes? Where are the lock boxes and safes located?
- Where do you do your banking, and what are your account numbers?
- How many credit card accounts do you have, and where do you keep your statements?
- Do you have a power of attorney for personal care and property?
- How do you pay your bills? Are there any automatic payments being drawn from a checking account? Do you do your banking online or pay using paper checks?
- What is your annual income and where does it come from? Do you receive a monthly pension check or dividends from any investments? What are you monthly expenses (including mortgage payments, car payments, credit card debt, electric bills and other expenses)?
- Do you have any form health insurance either from an employer or included as part of a pension?
- Do you have long-term care insurance?
- Do you have a financial planner? What is his/her name and contact information, and have you done any formal estate planning with them?
Always remember that as a Foresters Financial member, one of the important well-being benefits at your disposal is Legal Link, a benefit that allows you to access certain free and discounted legal services in your area. You can even connect with lawyers for help with a variety of issues including wills, home ownership and family law.
Expert legal advice can be invaluable and is sometimes needed when we least expect it, and Legal Link makes it easier to seek legal advice at discounted prices. Members can call Legal Link (1-800-444 3043) to access free or discounted legal services.
It’s not always easy when the tables begin to turn and we find ourselves in the position of needing to parent our parents, but it’s so rewarding to know that you’re able to look after them with the same loving care that they gave to you.
For more information on issues that are important to seniors, read our article on exploring legal matters.
415246D CAN/US (07/17)