As nuestros padres grow older, we face the realities of having to care for them. According to AARP, family caregivers shell out about $5,500 every year to meet an relative’s senior care needs. Adding to the financial burden of caring for elderly parents are the emotional and physical stresses that can zap joy from the family unit. Las Fabulosas gets expert advice on how to keep the family fuerte by preparing and organizing for the senior care of our relatives.
Deborah M. Higgins, President Higgins Capital Management, Inc., has seen an increase in clients asking for help with planning for the costs of senior care. Taking care of a parent “can be daunting and leave you feeling overwhelmed,” says Higgins, who has spent the past three decades working as a financial advisor. “You have to look at the big picture,” which can be done with a checklist that identifies and lists the tasks associated.
- Balance your parents’ housing needs and wishes by speaking to them at length. Can they live independently? Or does the parent need assisted living, day care or nursing home care?
- “Has a list of important financial documents and records been prepared,” asks Higgins on sample checklists she drafts for clients. This list includes all bank and investment account records, credit card statements, mortgage, insurance, utility bills, retirement plan statements and income tax returns for the last three years.
- Plan when you will start gathering your parent’s “relevant personal information,” such as passwords or their Social Security number, and start coordinating “long-term care with government benefits.”
When it comes to caretakers, there are two kinds, according to financial planner Francine Russo: primary and secondary. “If you are your parent’s primary helper,” says Russo, “ask yourself what you really want.” It helps to take an honest turn with yourself about whether it is more help, appreciation or control that you desire. “Lots of caregivers feel lonely and unappreciated.”
- Be specific. “If you’re feeling lonely, let other family members know that you would consider it a big help if they would just call more regularly,” says Russo, author of They’re Your Parents, Too!: How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents’ Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy. “If you think you ‘shouldn’t have to ask,’ think again, and request the help that you can get realistically.”
- If you have siblings: Band together. Whenever possible, “change places for a few days or a week,” with your sibling, suggests Russo. Otherwise, pool enough cash “to hire paid help, arrange meal deliveries, or a car service to take your parent to appointments.”
- Avoid “Should-ing” others. Making a sibling feel guilty will only drive “them to defend themselves, often in angry ways,” says Russo. Instead, remember that “your siblings may not have had the same relationship with your parents that you did. There’s no reason they ‘should’ feel the same way you do.”