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Planning for Caregivers

Planning for Caregivers

The generation of Americans known as Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are also sometimes called the Sandwich Generation.   They are more likely than past generations to simultaneously be raising a family, be in the workforce and be taking care of elderly parents on some level.  Caregiving is a challenging experience but for many of those adult caregivers, the financial caregiving tasks can be the most difficult tasks of all.

Planning ahead can give your parents peace of mind because they know their wishes are understood and will be carried out. You can have peace of mind if you know what your parents want and have the tools for caring and effective decision-making.

Ideally, the time to talk with elderly about their finances is when they are healthy –before they need assistance.  “Where to start” depends on your parents’ health and circumstances, as well as any prior financial planning they have done.  Advance planning can help you and your family void crisis decision-making, increase your parents’ future options, save money, reduce sibling disagreements about “what Mom or Dad wants” and how their assets should be handled and decrease the possibility that you or your family will have to take court action in order to manage your parents’ financial affairs.

As a caregiver, there are two primary reasons for advance planning. The most important is to be prepared for an emergency by knowing where to find your parents’ important financial and legal documents. A second reason advance planning is to encourage your parents to prepare the financial and legal tools, such as a durable power of attorney, that will allow you or another agent to direct and manage their future financial affairs in the event that they cannot do so themselves.      

Priorities for discussions about finances include:

  • Find out where personal and financial documents are kept
  • Suggest simplifying day-to-day money management through direct deposit and automatic bill paying services.
  • Find out about their health insurance and where health ID cards are kept.
  • Ensure they enroll for Medicare if eligible.
  • Look into long-term care insurance and their plans for long-term care.
  • Designate a durable power of attorney for finances and for health care.
  • Update wills and estate planning goals.
  • Learn about frauds targeting the elderly so you and your parents can recognize and avoid scams.
  • Encourage your parents to prepare advance directives specifying their wishes as to types of end-of-life medical support.
  • Inquire about the type of funeral and burial they want and learn about any related plans or purchases they have already made.
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