A parent’s well being is a growing concern for many adult children who watch as a parent ages and perhaps encounters difficulties which are new to the entire family. The issues an aging parent may encounter can seem overwhelming and a child may not know where to turn for assistance. There are many services adult children can utilize as, or before, needs arise.
At the forefront of most people’s minds is ensuring an aging parent’s day-to-day safety. For some, living at home is still an option, while others may require services that only an assisted living facility can provide. Unfortunately, it is often after an accident where a parent’s safety is at issue that families realize a decision must be made. However, there are steps that can be taken before an incident occurs to ensure an aging parent’s safety and comfort.
Geriatric Care Coordinators are professionals, often with experience in nursing or related medical fields, who can assist families in making decisions and implementing a plan regarding living arrangements based upon the needs of the individual. Care coordinators can evaluate a situation and help determine how your parent’s needs will best be met. Once a decision is made, the coordinator can help choose a facility, locate an appropriate home health care provider or recommend someone to assist with cooking and other household tasks.
Most Geriatric Care Coordinators provide many other services, as well. They can, for example, act as advocates or liaisons between a family and medical providers, assist with insurance or medication issues, accompany your parent to doctor appointments, or transition a parent back into a regular routine after a hospital stay.
Another concern which must be addressed is ensuring a parent’s estate planning documents are up to date and in order. A complete plan should include a will, general power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will, and HIPAA authorization. If your parent will be undergoing any type of medical treatment, or may be expected to in the future, it is particularly important to ensure these documents are current. Original documents should be stored in a safe place easily accessible to the appropriate people, such as the agent under a general or health care power of attorney. If a parent’s documents need work, you should help your parent locate an attorney specializing in estate planning.
Attorneys can also provide advice with other Elder Law issues, such as laws regulating Medicaid and Social Security, planning for retirement and long term insurance coverage. It is important to remember that even if you make the appointment and accompany your parent to the attorney’s office, your parent will be the attorney’s client. The attorney may ask to speak to your parent without you present and will certainly consider your parent’s wishes above all else. In some serious cases, if the attorney doubts your parent’s competency, the attorney may not be able to proceed with representation of your parent. In such a case it may be necessary to institute a guardianship proceeding.
Another important consideration is financial planning for your parent. Certainly, you will want to ensure your parent has adequate resources for the years to come. It is also important to help your parent consolidate bank and other accounts to alleviate the complexity of managing multiple accounts. A brokerage account can be a simple and secure method to easily manage your parent’s stocks.
For more information on these and other options, contact an attorney who practices Elder Law. The attorney will be able to assist you with legal concerns and refer you to Geriatric Care Coordinators and Financial Planners in your parent’s community.