America is aging, and by 2050, there will be nearly 88 million seniors over age 65. With this huge demographic shift, adult children will find themselves with a new role.
It is not unusual in many families that as parents age, their children take on the role of caregivers. However, the sheer number of people who will be over age 65 in coming years, will make some big changes in our nation, as reported by Fox Business in the recent article, “Aging parents are the new ‘children.’”
One concern is that aging parents can lose their mental abilities. The Alzheimer’s Association says that every 65 seconds, someone in the U.S. develops the disease. It’s now the sixth-leading cause of death. This can create additional long-term care needs for parents and result in an emotional and financial burden on adult children.
Parents with physical limitations may have difficulties living independently. Therefore, you should understand your parents’ long-term plans and how they will impact you. Let’s examine some of the things you can do, as your parents go through the aging cycle.
Family Conversations. While talking to your parents about these topics now may be uncomfortable, it will save you a lot of stress, time, and money in the future. Parents who want to preserve autonomy should express their wishes. Parents should discuss their healthcare wishes, the what ifs and finances now to discover what options they may have for care. It’s important that adult children understand details of their parents’ financial situations, before they’re unable to communicate due to incapacity or death.
Get the Family Affairs in Order. Create a system to help with gathering information. This should include medical histories and estate plans. Start to organize information with your parents as early as possible. Adult children should be sure that their parents have a will, a trust (or both), a durable power of attorney for property and a durable power of attorney for healthcare.
Determine Parents’ Long-Term Financial Needs. It’s extremely expensive to provide care for aging parents. Seek professional guidance to determine how much of your parent’s savings is currently allocated to pay for healthcare in retirement, not covered by Medicare. Look at long-term care insurance.
Have an Actively Involved Relationship. If you see your parents on a regular basis, keep your eyes open for any kind of change in their behavior or signs that things are not right: stacks of unopened mail, phone calls from people you don’t know, etc. If you do not live near your parents, ask an estate planning or elder care attorney for recommendations for social workers or elder care services to help your parents. They can do things like take parents to medical appointments, talk with care facilities on your behalf and keep you apprised of your parent’s well-being.
Your parents may or may not enjoy the “golden years” that we envision, but some preparation now, including having the tough discussions, will at the very least make it easier in the future.
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