Knowing when to talk to a loved one about lifestyle changes can be a daunting task for children of aging parents. Millions of adult children are often forced to care for a parent who once cared for them -- or even more challenging -- take care of an aging parent and their own children at the same time.
To help minimize challenges for children of aging parents, below are seven legal steps you can take.
No one knows whether illness or disability will strike their families. Despite advances in health care technology, an aging parent may end up having to rely on family, friends, or health care providers to help with even the basic activities of daily life. Planning ahead is simply taking the steps necessary to account for one’s financial, healthcare, and living arrangements before it is too late.
Planning ahead also includes creating legally valid documents that expresses one’s wishes in writing. This may include having an up-to-date will, creating a durable power of attorney for medical decisions, and creating a living trust to transfer property to selected beneficiaries. Encouraging a parent to create the necessary estate planning documents can save families a lot of stress and challenges later on.
Long term care can be costly and is often needed when someone suffers from a chronic or disabling condition that requires either a skilled nursing care or custodial assistance with common activities of daily living such as bathing, walking, and toileting. It is a good idea to learn about long-term care options to avoid any financial and emotional burdens.
Unless you or your family members are wealthy, it may be a good idea to purchase long-term care insurance for your loved one. A solid long-term care policy can allow your parent or family members to continue the same lifestyle and ensure their assets end up in the proper hands.
There are two main types of advance directives, the living trust and healthcare power of attorney. Both documents allow one to make medical decisions and appoint someone to look after one’s medical affairs if they become too sick or disabled to make these decisions on their own. Review with your parent who they might wish to make healthcare decisions if they are unable to.
The health care agent is the person who will communicate the medical wishes and treatment needs to a doctor for someone who is unable to make decisions on their own, due to age, illness, or disability. Choosing a help care agent can ensure a parent's medical wishes are in line with their personal and religious beliefs, among other things.
Sometimes the most important tip for children of aging parents is to speak with an elder law attorney. An elder law attorney can advise families on a variety of elder law matters and consolidate a parent’s legal documents in one place.