It has become more common than not that retirees over 65 have parents that are still living independently, but are they at risk? What if they were to fall or a sudden illness meant they could no longer maintain their current lifestyle, and there now senior-aged children do not live close by? Or their children have health concerns of their own. Are both you and your parents at risk?
Changes to Powers of Attorney and Health Care Proxy
If both parents are still alive, and their existing legal documents have each other as primary agents they should change the documents to have one of the children as the primary agent in case one of them is unable to act in that capacity. It should be a child that lives close by and preferably one without health issues of their own. Everyone over the age of 60 should have a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy naming someone to assist with financial and medical decisions and documents if for some reason they become incapacitated.
If your parent(s) have limited liquid assets and still own their home, and their monthly income does not cover their expenses they will be in big trouble if it turns out they need a caregiver to help them at home. The realities of paying for care and the limited coverage of Medicare can drain any assets fast. Additionally, the criteria for Medicaid eligibility, the application process, and using Medicaid to pay for home care can be challenging. It might be best to explore alternative living situations that better meet their needs while they still have funds and ensure they find a facility that allows them to spend down to Medicaid when their funds are exhausted.
If your parents choose to remain in their home, it’s recommended a home evaluation be done to determine what modifications can be done to the home to make it safer. These modifications can be simple, such as a tub bench, so they don’t have to step over the tub to get into the shower, or more complex, such as a stairlift or emergency alert system.
If your parents have multiple medical conditions and take many medications, it’s not uncommon for them to forget to take their medications, or to take them incorrectly. This is a serious issue and often leads to unnecessary hospitalization, which can precipitate a downward spiral. Looking into a visiting nurse or creating a medical management system is highly recommended.
Take a Deep Breath
Unfortunately, how children and parents look at things can often by very different. Many of us experience the frustration of having a clear idea of what will improve a parent’s quality and/or quantity of life but having that parent refuse to make a change. Sometimes family members will hear suggestions better from a professional, who can recommend small changes that can make a difference and prolong stability. Other times, the best we can do is plan for the emergency and know where we can go for help when it happens. (See our list of Resources here.)
Click for information on Power of Attorney, Health Proxy, or Important Legal Documents. At Tacoma Elder Care we are about making sure you are prepared.
Bob Michaels is extremely passionate about providing the best possible legal experience for his clients, and focuses his practice on elder law, estate planning, business, and real estate matters. Bob has been able to provide piece of mind and a solid foundation to many folks in the Puget Sound area over the years and wants to provide resources and relevant information whenever he can.