There comes a time in our lives when suddenly we must adult for our adults. Our roles switch. The caregivers need the caregiving.
Adulting for your parents isn’t easy. It’s an uncomfortable conversation to broach with Mom and Dad. However, the consequences of avoiding it are even more uncomfortable. While it might be difficult to talk about your parents’ future with them, it’s better to make sure they and their assets get the care they need.
Below are five topics to cover with Mom and Dad to make sure that conversation is as effective as it is difficult.
Health and assistance.
With the ongoing rise of healthcare costs and the unsure future of the Affordable Care Act, families must start planning for healthcare and healthcare expenses as soon as possible. Talk with your parents about their current health and the history of health and disease in your family.
What are they dealing with now? What might they deal with in the future? This information will help the family make educated decisions on how to manage their money and investments to provide the healthcare they need.
Precautionary measures that include a healthy diet, regular doctor checkups, and regular exercise may help minimize long-term costs and the risks of some diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes. Despite all the precautionary measures families can take, parents may need long-term care.
Mom and Dad may need someone to care for them on a regular basis. Children may want to provide that care, but it can be challenging and stressful. Children often aren’t equipped with the knowledge and physical stamina required to properly care for our older adults. Adulting for your parents can be very hard and require specialized training.
Long-term care is expensive, though. Consider long-term care insurance. Long-term care insurance covers items not covered by standard health insurance. Health insurance provides coverage for illnesses and diseases. Long-term care insurance covers services that provide mom and dad with daily living assistance. This could include help with eating, bathing, help in the bathroom, and help getting in and out of bed.
Mom and Dad may get to a point when living in their current home is challenging or even dangerous for them. Walking up long and steep flights of steps may hard. Reaching high cabinets and shelves may be impossible.
If this happens, it may be appropriate for them to move into their children’s house. You can be involved with adulting for your parents more easily in this situation.
This isn’t always the best solution for either party, though. The children and grandchildren may be too busy or unable to help care for mom and dad. Mom and dad may rather be around their own friends or, believe it or not, people their own age.
Retirement villages for those 55 and up are very popular. These are ideal neighborhoods to keep Mom and Dad active and around a community of people with whom they can spend time and relate.
Social interaction is especially crucial as we age. It helps fight problems such as dementia and depression. Staying active in local and broader communities helps maintain a sense of purpose. Encourage parents to join clubs and organizations and volunteer for causes about which they’re passionate.
As Mom and Dad need more attention, nursing facilities may become necessary. Families must plan for such expenses; the average nursing home costs about $80,000 annually for a semi-private room.
Have the conversation when mom and dad can still engage so you understand their wishes and concerns. Assess what the whole family can handle and manage mom and dad’s investments and assets accordingly.
Wills, trusts, and estate planning.
Life for children is stressful enough when parents are incapacitated or pass away. Some of that stress can be alleviated with proper planning.
If Mom and Dad haven’t already done so, they should get their will in order. This is an appropriate time to draft living wills and burial requests.
Include trust and estate planning to make sure what they leave behind is used in the manner they wish. These options give mom and dad peace of mind and takes weight off children’s shoulders. It also helps avoid family conflict that can happen when someone passes away.
Once all their legal documents are organized, a great tool is Docubank. DocuBank electronically stores all official and legal documents, including healthcare directives and emergency medical information, on a credit card-like card to keep these documents accessible from anywhere in the world at any time of day.
It’s unfortunate, but true: getting older is expensive. Because savings rates are low due to low interest rates, it’s important that mom and dad be appropriately invested. Not only must they keep up with the rate of inflation and fight small Social Security increases, they must keep up with the increasing costs of aging.
The challenge is to not assume too much risk or wipe out savings and retirement investments for when they need it.
Most children aren’t equipped for such a conversation or responsibility. Therefore, it’s advisable to use a professional. Just any professional won’t do. Seek the help of a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) who is also Investment Advisory Registered (IAR).
An investment professional with a CFP designation has completed significant education and testing to use the CFP designation. An IAR designation means investment professional has taken additional testing and has a fiduciary responsibility to their clients.
Fiduciary responsibility means an investment professional must, and is held accountable to, make investment decisions based on their client’s best interests. This means under no circumstances is the investment professional allowed to sell mom and dad investments that are in the investment professional’s best interest and not mom and dad’s.
Adulting for adult children.
Lastly, it’s important for Mom and Dad to stop financially supporting adult children when it becomes prohibitive to Mom and Dad’s interests.
Everyone has that one cousin, some of us have that one sibling, who’s just never got their life in order. They hop from job to job and place to place. Their only constant is Mom and Dad and Mom and Dad’s money.
Mom and Dad have done enough. It’s time for them and you to focus on them. That means it’s time for some adult children, whether they’re ready or not, to start adulting. You’ll be adulting for your parents soon enough. Time to start adulting for yourself.
While these may be difficult topics to discuss with aging parents, they’re much easier conversations to have when mom and dad can be a part of them. The purpose is to give mom and dad the dignity they deserve. Doing so is a lot easier when you know what they want.