7 tips when senior care planning for aging parents
Budgeting for senior care is more than just saving money
By Jennifer Karchmer and Mindy Best
Talking to your parents about how they’re going to pay for their senior care as they get older and their health care needs increase is understandably a delicate subject. Maybe you’ve put off the inevitable discussion, but financial experts say now is the time to bring it up, little by little if you must, because it will make a difference — emotionally and financially — in the long run.
But if you’re just not sure where to start with a senior care plan, here are some elements to think about while you help with your parents’ plans.
1. Keep an open mind
Elder care planning and financing may feel uncomfortable, but try to tackle these decisions with an open mind, says Ian Bloom, a certified financial planner who specializes in planning for younger, technically inclined clients. If you’re uncertain about how to get the ball rolling, you can approach your parents with a lead-in like: “I want to make sure you have everything you deserve. What is your plan for your 80s and 90s? What does that look like?”
2. Budget for their most likely senior care option
Your role is to help your parents see the bigger picture, says Quentara Costa, a certified financial planner and owner of Powwow, LLC. She says many clients understandably envision their final days in their home, yet that isn’t always a practical decision.
Your parents have different types of long- and short-term senior care to consider when planning for their future. You may also want to consider your parents’ health histories, your proximity to them, and what your parents’ insurance plans cover.
3. Consider insurance options
Medicare insurance doesn’t cover everything. For example, Medicare doesn’t cover custodial care, but it does cover skilled nursing care. That’s why it can be beneficial to consider supplemental health insurance to fill in some of the gaps. Your parents can also consider adding riders to their existing insurance plans to create more rounded coverage.
Few insurance providers will allow you to add your parents to your current insurance plan, and they have to meet specific dependency requirements first. Instead, alternative options include switching insurance plans or helping your parents apply for financial assistance.
4. Don’t forget estate planning
Talk to your mom or dad about assigning a medical power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. This can be the same person for both, or two different people assigned either to handle your parents’ money or senior care decisions if they are no longer able. Be sure to check out Medico’s FREE estate planning checklist if you need help getting started.
5. Talk with a financial advisor
Not only is budgeting important for your parents to pay for their senior care but getting your own finances in order is also important in case you need to help cover their expenses. Talk with a certified financial advisor and start saving for your parents’ senior care before they reach their peak earning years or before they turn 60.
6. Keep track of your expenses
Keep track of your caregiver expenses, and find out how to get paid while caring for a parent. Check for eligibility and coverage requirements as they vary from state to state. For example, some state programs exclude spouses and legal guardians, and other states will pay care providers (you) only when they are not living in the same house as the care recipient (your parent).
7. Call in an expert
If you’re still not sure how to get started on a senior care plan, consider hiring an expert in elder care planning, such as an Aging Life Care Professional. Aging Life Care Professionals are certified geriatric care managers who help families and caregivers of older adults address a variety of issues related to aging and elder care. These health- and human-services specialists look out for their client’s well-being through assessment and monitoring, planning and problem-solving, education and advocacy, and family caregiver coaching.
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