Elder Care: Communication is Key

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The key to any relationship is communication – even if the topic may be a difficult one.  Establishing a plan for your loved one as they age is essential to ensuring that their needs and wishes are met.  Oftentimes, we feel, as children, that this topic is too upsetting for our parents or grandparents to hear.  However, without a clear and thought-out plan, a difficult situation will become nearly impossible to resolve.

When you utilize a professional Financial Planning team, you get more than just a valuable resource with years of experience; you get the necessary objectivity to remove the emotion from an emotionally charged situation.  A professional team, like the Financial Planning team at WealthEdge®, can thoroughly investigate every unique situation and develop a complete and thorough plan for Aging Adults.  Our experience with unique situations regarding specialized needs is unparalleled.

The truth of the matter is that we all will die someday.  And we all want to live out our last years with dignity and compassion.  Furthermore, we want to leave something behind for our loved ones, whether that is financial or just personal mementos.  The last thing we ever want to be is a burden – financially or physically.

As the rate of life-expectancy continues to grow, our generation is left with the task of helping our parents and grandparents establish their wants and needs as they move into their elder years.  The reality is that more and more people will need some sort of formal elderly care – whether that is home nursing care, assisted living or a full-service nursing home.  Having a plan in place is paramount to address an elder’s needs and to ease a caregiver’s burden.

Failing to plan can make a bad situation worse.  A study by MetLife Mature Market Institute found that caregiver respondents reported an average loss of $566,443 in wage wealth – because of unanticipated consequences of their caregiving responsibilities.  But, MOST IMPORTANTLY, without a clear elder plan, the recipient may end up having the least say in their wishes and possibly lose control over their own future.

So, how do you begin to establish a thorough plan for Aging Adults?

The first step is to prepare a conversation with all parties involved – the elderly person, family, and any other potential caregivers.  Keep it simple at first.  Discover what priorities your loved one has about their future.

For example, Do they want to remain in their home for as long as possible?  Do they want to travel?  Do they want to establish a trust to ease their children or grandchildren’s financial burdens?  Do they want to leave a legacy through charity donations?, etc.

Next, begin to express some of YOUR concerns and how your loved one would like to address them.  For example, “Dad I realize that there a lot of steps in the house, have you thought about other options for when they become too difficult?”

Leave the conversation open and make sure that everyone gets a chance to be heard.

Once you have initiated the conversation, you can begin assessing the needs of your loved one.  The elderly person should always be involved and agreeable to every step of the plan.  The first essential step of this is to locate and go through all of your loved one’s personal documents.  Put all of this useful information in one central location that is accessible to all interested parties.  Verify that all the documents are up-to-date, especially LEGAL documents, such as wills, trust, and healthcare proxy forms. Address any missing documents NOW before they become necessary.

Lastly, listen and plan objectively.  Be empathetic and understanding of your loved one’s next stage of life and make sure that their wishes and needs are heard and met.  Sometimes, the best way to accomplish this is to diffuse the emotional aspect with third-party involvement.  Social workers, financial planners and other healthcare professional can give useful, informative advice without any emotional involvement – giving you and your loved ones OBJECTIVE SOLUTIONS.