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Planning for aging or incapacitated parents

From the day you entered the world, you probably began relying on your parents for food, love, shelter and care, but at some point in your life, you can expect your roles to reverse. No one likes to think about parents getting older and nearing the ends of their lives, but the better you and they prepare for the change, the more smoothly the transition will likely go.

When it comes to planning for your parents as they get older, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to wait until their health deteriorates considerably, or until they otherwise become incapacitated. Instead, it is wise to give yourself a five-year head start on getting your parents’ affairs in order so that you may:

Get insurance needs squared away

Many people do not realize that regular health insurance, and even government-provided medical assistance, typically does not cover long-term care in a nursing home or continuing care environment. The cost of living in such as facility can be astronomical, so you need to figure out how much you and they have in savings, retirement accounts and so on to determine whether they need long-term care insurance or similar protection.

Get their finances in order

While taking a good, hard look at your parents’ finances will help you determine insurance needs, it is also wise to get an idea of their net worth to determine whether they will be able to afford day-to-day living expenses in addition to long-term care. It is also wise to get your name added to their bank and investment accounts so that you can make sure they are paying bills as needed, and that they do not become victims of identity theft or related crimes.

These are just a few of the steps you can take ahead of time to prepare for your parents’ inevitable aging and reduce the odds of experiencing unnecessary hardship down the line. Often, the hardest step in planning ahead for your parents is beginning the conversation with them in the first place, but a few moments of discomfort can pave the way for a far smoother future for all of you.

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