My parents are getting older and soon they may not be able to take care of themselves. What can I do to make sure that have the care and support they may need?

This is one of those subjects that many of us will procrastinate or avoid altogether. Whether this is happening now or later on down the road, there are steps which you can take to make it easier on your parents and yourself.

First, talk to your parents. Ask them about their expectations of their future and what they may expect of you. They may be unwilling or even unable to discuss the subject for a number of reasons, including: incapacity, fear of becoming dependent, and resentment to you for bringing it up or reluctance to burden you with their problems. In this case you must plan as much as possible without their participation.

Next suggestion is to have a list of topics to discuss with them. For example consider living arrangements. Can they continue to live on their own or do they need assistance? Medical care decisions are also of concern. What are their wishes and do they have power of attorney in place for advanced health care directives. Do they have long-term care insurance or should they get some in place? There are similar concerns for financial decisions. How can you protect their assets? Do they have wills or trusts in place?

In last week’s Money Talk column, my peer Bryan Hickingbottom wrote about the importance of having a trust in place. If you heed that advice many potential headaches and heartache may be avoided.

You should also make sure to have a personal data record for anything that may be needed. This should cover all the information discussed above plus contacts for professional service providers, keys to safe deposit boxes, real estate deeds, insurance policies, etc. Take away here is to get organized.

This next subject needs to be addressed delicately but, you might need to assess their physical and or mental abilities. You may even ask their doctor to recommend a facility for a geriatric assessment of their abilities. This will give you a baseline for the level of assistance they may or may not need to carry out day to day activities like cooking, cleaning, taking and monitoring medications, handling financial matters and any other necessary tasks.

Don’t try to care for your parents all by yourself. There are professionals that can help in this area. Geriatric Care Managers such as nurses and social workers that are experienced in geriatric care and will be able to relieve you from some of this burden. This is Respite care, which gives you a day off to take of yourself and your family’s needs. Taking care of family should not be a burden, it should be a joy to give back to parents whom we owe so much. If you plan properly it can be.

There are many resources available to help you in this endeavor:

The San Joaquin County Department of Human Services at http://www.sjchsa.org or 800-677-1116 for the eldercare locator; for elder abuse call 888-800-4800; legal counsel for the elderly at http://www.aarp.org/states/dc/LCE.html.

These are just some of many resources available.

Once you have gathered all the necessary information address any gaps that need to be covered. Don’t be caught off guard. Take some time now to be prepared for the inevitable and until we talk again, be well.

Dale Immekus is the owner of Dedicated Financial Services and an accredited wealth management advisor. If you have any questions for our panel of financial experts, email News-Sentinel Editor Scott Howell at scotth@lodinews.com or call 209-369-7035.

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