5 Ways to Help Aging Loved Ones
When your parents or other loved ones need help as they get older, it can be unsettling and overwhelming for everyone involved. It often happens gradually and perhaps unnoticed, and then suddenly can become urgent to figure out what they need, understand the many options available and then step in to make appropriate decisions. Over the years, from talking to our clients in this type of situation, we have identified five of the most common issues that we have seen arise with caring for and helping aging loved ones. Of course, we also recommend that you consult with your loved one’s caregivers, medical professionals, counsel and accountant to get a more comprehensive view of their situation.
1. Identifying that a problem exists
The first step in helping your aging loved one is to identify signs that there is, indeed, an issue. If there’s a physical issue, that usually makes it easier to identify. If their need is related to brain function, such as dementia, it can be much more difficult to spot and often comes on gradually. In addition to the typical signs, such as memory loss and forgetfulness, other things to watch for include suddenly becoming disorganized with finances, missing important payments and accumulating atypical credit card balances.
2. Deciding what help is needed and taking action
Once you identify there’s an issue, don’t hesitate to assess what help they need and take action. What medical needs do they have? Do they require in-home care? Will they need help with finances and paying bills? Is their home set up adequately for them to get around safely? If possible, involve other family members to help and provide their perspectives. Or seek professional help—there are many services available that can provide in-home care, assist with paying bills or even help get groceries. The Alzheimer’s Association (we are not affiliated with this entity) and its website is a good place to start researching options—https://www.alz.org/help-support/community.
3. Getting organized and managing cashflow
Helping to get organized with finances can be overwhelming, and we often talk to clients who are wondering what their aging loved one can afford to spend on additional care. Simplify wherever you can by identifying all of their financial accounts and consolidating where possible to help streamline the process. Once you know the available resources, you can develop a financial plan and budget to provide the ongoing care they need.
4. Estate planning considerations
Working with an attorney to develop a solid estate plan can help reduce estate taxes and avoid legal issues, and it can also ensure the right people have access and authority to help out when needed. Help your aging loved one review their documents to make sure they have a valid Power of Attorney for both Property and Health Care. If a trust is established, review who will act as trustee. And then review brokerage and bank accounts to make sure the right people are added to those accounts, so they can act when required without any undue impediments.
5. Planning for assisted living and nursing care
When helping an aging loved one, it’s also important to assess their living conditions and come up with a plan for them to live where they can receive the care and services they need. There are many in-home care options available that can be customized to meet specific requirements. Or they might be better served moving to an assisted living facility where specialized professional help is readily available. Planning for the right time to make a move, as well as the costs involved, is crucial.
In summary, assisting aging parents or other loved ones is an issue that more and more people are encountering these days, and it can be emotionally and financially challenging for everyone. It may be helpful to take a step back and think of these five areas when starting to develop a focused plan that will get them the help and support they need.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam is an Associate Partner, Wealth Advisor in our Itasca, IL, office. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) and earned a BS in Finance from Northern Illinois University. He has over 15 years of experience working in finance. In addition to serving clients as a Wealth Manager, he also specializes in helping families with aging parents and loved ones.
This information is for educational purposes and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax, insurance, or investment advice. This does not constitute an offer to provide any services, nor a solicitation to purchase securities. The contents are not intended to be advice tailored to any particular person or situation. We believe the information provided is accurate and reliable, but do not warrant it as to completeness or accuracy. This information may include opinions or forecasts, including investment strategies and economic and market conditions; however, there is no guarantee that such opinions or forecasts will prove to be correct, and they also may change without notice. We encourage you to speak with a qualified professional regarding your scenario and the then-current applicable laws and rules.
Our clients must, in writing, advise us of personal, financial, or investment objective changes and any restrictions desired on our services so that we may re-evaluate any previous recommendations and adjust our advisory services as needed. For current clients, please advise us immediately if you are not receiving monthly account statements from your custodian. We encourage you to compare your custodial statements to any information we provide to you.