The truth is that family caregiving responsibilities take a toll on family finances. A study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute, for example, found that caregiver respondents reported an average loss of $566,443 in wage wealth—all because of the unanticipated consequences of their caregiving responsibilities.
This checklist from ElderLaw Blog can serve as a starting point to begin getting things organized and in order.
- Make a list of all accounts and where they are held
- Consolidate accounts where possible
- Ensure that the proper names and permissions are on each account
- Streamline bill paying by setting up automatic payments where possible, etc.
- Obtain contact information for any financial advisors (It can also be helpful to arrange a meeting with their financial advisor to review investments, asset allocation, and to make sure there are adequate resources to support your parent or loved one’s lifestyle)
- Review Social Security benefits
- Update beneficiary designations.
- What investments do they have?
__Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
- Where are these investments?
- Where is the original documentation for all investments?
- What are the amounts of each investment?
- Make a list of all insurance policies and locate copies of each
__Life Insurance Policies
__Health Insurance Policies
__Long-term care policies
__Other policies (life, health, long-term care, etc.)
- Schedule a meeting with your parent or loved one’s insurance advisor to review policies or to set up a long-term care insurance policy if there isn’t one already
- Review and update any auto, homeowners or umbrella liability policies
- Review and update health insurance coverage and Medicaid planning strategies (ie: determine if a Medigap policy will be needed to pay for costs not covered by Medicare)
- Is there a will or estate plan in place and does it need updating to reflect current wishes regarding executors, beneficiaries, etc.?
- Is there a durable and up-to-date power of attorney for finance in place?
- Is there a durable and up-to-date medical power of attorney in place that includes an advance directive outlining wishes for life-prolonging care?
- What is the current living/housing situation and is it working?
- What are the plans for illness, disability or death of a spouse/partner?
- Is there money available to pay for those contingencies (ie: savings or long-term care insurance)?
- Do you have caregiver agreement documents in place?
- Make a list of all doctors and medications currently prescribed
- Make a list of wishes for various medical scenarios
- Make sure health insurance and supplemental policies support those wishes (ie: does the nearby hospital accept the current insurance, etc.)
Make a copy of healthcare cards (these are important when applying for benefits and going to the doctor)
Any very independent aging parent may find it hard to accept help. No one likes to give up control but the time may come when they do yield to the ravages of time. At that point the family can and should figure out an ideal sort of day or week you all can imagine and discuss it with your aging parent. If reaching that ideal is the goal, family can help by looking for the right care provider to assist in getting there. We do not recommend leaving this entirely up to an aging parent in failing health. Judgment may be impaired, memory can be problematic and younger, more capable family or even friends need to help create and execute the care plan. Here are the takeaways:
- Paying attention to your loved one’s needs includes identifying the point at which help may be necessary. Outside help can supplement what family can provide on your own.
- Discuss with your aging parent what kinds of help they think would be useful to them. Listen but then add your own judgment to devise a plan of care for them.
- Safety is the primary concern. Focus on that first. Once those safety needs are addressed, consider what fun, entertainment and socialization would work for your aging parent and suggest it to the care provider. Keeping your loved one moving and occupied can definitely help with the pervasive problem of depression.
- Stay in regular and frequent communication with the care provider to ensure that the plan is being followed. If not, explore why and make adjustments as needed.