Home for the Holidays
It is said that love is the greatest gift of all. As many families gather together during the holiday season, it may provide a good opportunity to express how much care through frank and open discussion with older relatives about their wellbeing. If you are not living in the same town as your older relatives it is easy for you to see changes in health status. This is a good time to begin the discussions. As we age and live longer, financial, legal, health care and long term care issues affect the whole family not just the older person. AgeSmart links older consumers and their families to aging series. Below are some ways that you might be able to initiate conversations.
- Find out what financial benefits are provided by your parents Social Security and pension. Determine if they are eligible for other financial programs.
- Be certain that each family member has a living will. Know where you parents’ insurance policies, wills, trust documents, tax returns, investment and banking records are located. “Thirty percent of adults do not know where their parents keep important papers such as their health insurance care, financial statements or will.” - Family Circle and Kaiser Foundation
- Understand that Medicare generally does not cover long term care (e.g. nursing home or extended home care), and Medicaid pay for only low-income individuals.
- Investigate what type of long term care insurance coverage may be best for you.
- Identify what community services are available that can help your parents maintain independence in the home for as long as possible, such as home modification programs that can install assistive devices. Learn whether housing options are available to meet their changing needs.
Families may avoid potential problems and be in good position to deal with later life needs by understanding and being prepared to face the following issues: Financial Organization, Legal Preparation, Health Insurance and Community Services. These conversations may seem difficult but be brave and start them. It will make everything easier should you have to find out this information during a crisis.