Holiday Family Gatherings Can Be Perfect Time to Help Aging Parents Plan for the Future

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Use Time Together to Discuss Financial, Physical Care Issues
November 16, 2007: 04:30 PM EST
CINCINNATI, Nov. 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — This is the time of year when many of us will travel home for the holidays, reuniting with family for a traditional holiday feast or exchange of gifts. And, for most, discussions about the future rarely will extend beyond developing New Year’s resolutions.

But family holiday celebrations also can provide a wonderful opportunity to discuss future financial security with aging parents.

“More than 25 percent of American families are involved in some way with elder or parent care, and this number is on the rise,” said Jaleigh White, director of Wealth Planning for Fifth Third Private Bank. “For many, the responsibility of caring for aging parents hits at a time when they also are raising children and anticipating sending them to college.

“In many cases, aging parents may have a clear idea of how they wish to spend their retirement years, but they may have procrastinated when it comes to planning for illness and death,” she added. “The holidays can be a perfect time to address these issues since the whole family is together and can take part in the conversation.”

Making decisions regarding the care of older parents can be a difficult and emotional process, but there are steps you can take to help make the discussion flow more easily:
— Create a plan. Because these are sensitive topics, it’s important to
discuss your intentions and what you hope to accomplish with siblings,
then decide how best to initiate the discussion with your parents.

— Be prepared. Before you talk with your parents, make sure you have the
information and options ready regarding the topics you wish to discuss.
Be able to share the advantages and disadvantages of any suggestions
you may make.

— Prepare a Personal Data Record. “Collect into one document all the
information you would need if your parents were to become incapacitated
or die, or were to either transfer their assets to you or give you
power of attorney,” says White. “This includes financial information,
legal documents, medical information and accounts, insurance policies,
and funeral and burial plans.”

— Listen. While it may feel natural to give advice, it’s important to
respect your parents’ wishes and experience. Listen to their ideas and
offer suggestions that will help them meet their needs. Ask them about
their expectations and respect their need for independence.

— Seek support and advice. If you are concerned about your parents’
mental or physical capabilities, ask their doctor for a geriatric
assessment. If you can’t care for your parents yourself, seek guidance
from a geriatric manager. If you provide care for your parents, check
into support groups, adult day care and caregiver training that can
provide assistance to you.

— Explore long-term care. “The issue of long-term care for your parents
may seem a long way off, but it’s closer than you think — and more
common,” White said. “While some families are able to bring aging
parents into their own homes, others are not. An alternative is to
purchase long-term care insurance to help cover all or part of the
costs for in-home care or assisted living facilities. To help keep
long-term care costs under control, it can help to think ahead and buy
while your parents are young — before age 60, if possible. You also
might ask about spousal discounts. Some insurers will offer discount
rates if both of your parents buy coverage.”

— Don’t wait. It’s easy to put off discussing topics that can be awkward
or unpleasant. But if your parents are reasonably healthy, now is a
good time to start planning for their future welfare.
“Having a conversation about health care and estate planning with your parents may be one of the most important things you can do,” White said. “Not only are you protecting their assets for the future, but you’re also providing them with an opportunity to share their personal wishes.”

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