7 tips to help you prepare to care for aging parents

If you’re thinking about taking on the responsibility of caring for your parents, know what your options are by doing research now to plan ahead.

1. Get a full picture of your parent’s financial situation.

It’s crucial to have an understanding of your parent’s finances so you can help put together a long-term caregiving budget to support their needs. You can start by reviewing your parent’s financial and medical information, like wills, bank statements, life insurance policies, prescriptions and healthcare costs, to understand their resources and needs. In many cases, income from pensions, social security, annuities and savings are not enough to pay expenses as people are living longer than ever.

2. Learn about life insurance for parents.

Once you have an overview of your parent’s financial situation, it may be beneficial to talk with your parents about a life insurance policy. Although it may be a tough conversation, it’s important as even a small policy can help cover some bills they may leave behind and funeral expenses.

3. Learn about Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare is health insurance provided by the government for ages 65 or older. There are a variety of plans offered that may cover doctor services, prescription costs and more. Check out which Medicare benefits can help cover your parent’s medical bills. There’s also Medicare Supplement insurance that can help pay healthcare costs that Medicare plans don’t cover, for example co-payments and deductibles, but keep in mind this can be pricey. For some, Medicaid may be an option, however, eligibility is often based on income level. To learn more about your options and if your parent qualifies for them, visit medicare.gov or www.medicaid.gov

4. Explore free or low-cost resources.

You don’t have to go through it alone. There are many ways you can get help for your parents at little or no cost, such as:

  • Local groups that send volunteers to visit with seniors in their homes.

  • Organizations that assist with healthcare premiums, as well as medical and prescription drug expenses.

  • Volunteers who help seniors find the best healthcare plans for their needs.

  • Programs like Meals On Wheels that deliver food to seniors nationwide.

To learn more about resources like these, go to AARP’s Benefits.

5. Think twice before quitting your job to help a parent.

You may really want to stay home and care for your parents full time, but consider all the scenarios if you left your job now. Would you have to live off your own savings and put your retirement options at risk? How would it affect your family? Will your job hunt be more difficult after a several-year work gap? Weigh your options carefully and consider what you will need to accomplish your goals. Perhaps your employer will give you a leave of absence. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and job protection when caring for a parent with a serious health condition. To see if this may be a good option for you, speak with a financial advisor to create or review your retirement plan.

6. Have a back-up plan if something happens to you.

You have enough to think about, but it’s important to consider possibilities that may arise.

  • Would other family members be able to help?

  • Could your parents stay at home? Understand the costs and options for home care.

  • If your parents have been living with you, where would they go?

  • Would you leave behind final expenses like funeral costs, estate taxes, and outstanding debts? Having life insurance coverage could pay for these costs and also give your parents a financial cushion to help with every day expenses, mortgage payments, and more.

7. Take care of yourself while you care for your parents.

Caring for aging parents can be stressful in many ways. It’s important to give yourself a break once in awhile! Get a massage. See friends. Seek out resources that can help you deal with it all, including the National Council on Aging.

As your parents used to tell you, do your homework first. You’ll be better off in the long run.

This article is provided by New York Life Insurance Company for informational purposes only. This article is not intended to provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. Please consult your own professional for advice specific to your circumstances.