4 Tips for Pre-planning Aging Parental Care

Feb 12, 2024

Canada’s senior population is the fastest-growing age group, according to Statistics Canada. Given people’s longer life expectancies, many of us will possibly have to care for our aging parent(s) at some point. The prospect of providing and paying for that care can be cause for considerable concern. That’s why it’s important to start a conversation with family members (parents and siblings alike) sooner than later to ensure everyone is well prepared and that personal, financial and estate plans are in place.

Gathering family members together to talk about present and future living situations as well as to discuss the potential need for various levels of care is a vital part of pre-planning for our aging parents’ future. It’s important to know how to meet everyone’s needs and expectations, as well as how to handle and finance it all.

Pre-planning Starts Now

It may be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but planning in advance can help everyone avoid misunderstandings that might crop up later. Even while you’re still young, it’s never too soon to start thinking about your parents’ future, never mind your own! As a pre-retiree, the planning for your aging parents’ care should be starting now – if you haven’t already given it some thought.

Start the Conversation

Here are four suggestions to get the conversation started and the ball rolling.

  1. Involve key family members from the beginning. It’s a good idea to include siblings and other family members in the conversation right from the start. If the parents involved are already in need of help, and you haven’t done any pre-planning, now’s the time to instigate open and regular discussions on how to manage costs associated with their care, and designate responsibilities. Be sure everyone has the chance to speak their mind and that your parents’ opinions are listened to and considered respectfully.
  2. Ask your parents what they want, such as where they’d like to live. Discuss what types of care they feel they may eventually need. If they want to stay in their own home, can they afford it and maintain it themselves? Will it need some upgrades such as accessibility alterations – ramps, hand railings, grab bars and suchlike? Can they afford in-home nursing care if needed? You may want to consider including an independent third party in the conversation – such as a medical professional or financial advisor – to help everyone understand the practical, financial and emotional aspects and responsibilities of elder care.
  3. Find out if your parents have an up to date Will or Estate Plan. You may want to ask if they’ve set up a Power of Attorney (POA), or what’s sometimes referred to as a health care directive in some provinces, outlining their wishes for medical treatment, as well as a POA authorizing you or an advisor to act on their behalf regarding their financial affairs. Although it can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, many of us will eventually have to manage the care and finances of our elderly parents or ensure someone trustworthy does it for them.
  4. With their permission, familiarize yourselves with your parents’ finances. If they haven’t appointed a Power of Attorney, suggest that they do so. Your parents have been proudly managing their own money for many years, so this can be a sensitive topic for discussion. There may come a time, however, when it’s necessary to learn about and become involved in your parents’ finances. Whether it’s bill paying, organizing, investing and general day to day banking and money management. Offer to work with them and their financial advisor in order to do what’s best for their financial needs. If they haven’t got an advisor, perhaps suggest they get one. Our partners at Coastal Community Credit Union and Coastal Community Private Wealth Group are available to assist you and all your family members.

With these four points in mind, the earlier you start the conversation, the better prepared you and your family will be.

By taking advantage of various resources and including third party advisors in the conversation, you can help ensure that your parents will receive the best care they can get if and when the time comes.

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