By : Meghan Belnap
It can be hard to watch your parents age. While the decision to place them in a care facility was likely a difficult decision to make, there are other ways in which you may feel you need to help them transition into this advanced time of their lives. When it comes to money, there are five helpful ways you can assist your parent in a care facility.
1. Organization is Key
In order to know where you are going, you first have to know where you have been. The first step to financial management is to get all documents in order for proper review, and this goes far beyond monthly expenses. Everything must be taken into consideration including wills, assets, end-of-life specifications, and medications. Make sure that these vital documents are organized kept in a safe location everyone in the family is aware of. Its also wise to get copies of these documents in a separate location as well, in case of emergency.
2. Auto Bill Pay
It can be easy for a bill to slip the mind of your elderly parent. Technology has offered a wonderful, convenient solution. Sit down with your parent and discuss their monthly bills, and speak with representatives of their creditors to set up automatic bill pay. Not only does this ensure bills are paid on time, but it’s one less thing you have to worry about every month. Then, you’ll be able to check the account periodically to ensure that payments are processing smoothly according to expected amounts.
An often overlooked aspect of your parent’s finances is insurance. All too often, insurance payments are overlooked, and, if a policy that has been paid on for years is allowed to lapse, this could pose severe financial obstacles for both you and your parent. Set up an appointment with their insurance provider, and discuss the coverage and track the monthly expense. Take time to review policies with an experienced agent to ensure that each policy is continuing to meet real needs. As people get older and their situation changes, they often neglect to cancel unneeded policies and may not be aware of others that they should consider buying. An expert will help you and your parent to understand if these needs are currently in order or not.
4. State and Federal Benefits
There are a number of state and federal benefit programs available for elderly citizens, and it’s worthwhile to check and see if there are any benefits your parent may qualify for. Expenses such as food can cause an unexpected dent in the monthly budget, and your parent may easily qualify for food stamps or a meals on wheels program. There are also programs that help cover expenses related to health care and even utility bills. Check both government and private organizations to see what financial and care options are available.
5. Don’t Do Everything Financially
Many concerned children are tempted to do everything for their mother or father after their parent has moved into a care facility. This approach, however, is a mistake. Moving to a care facility already requires an admission from your parent that she or he is no longer able to care for her or himself. It’s important that your mother or father know that she or he still has control of her or his resources to some extent. Even if your parent’s resources are limited or health concerns limit her or his understanding of important matters, be sure to provide a financial outlet she or he can control. Provide your mother with custom checks linked to a small account she can use. Give your father small amounts of cash to spend as he desires. Consult with your parent about big financial decisions. Access even to a small amount of independent means will reassure your parent that she or he is still able to manage affairs as she or he did in the past, even if circumstances have changed.
Your parent worked hard to make sure you had the best in life when it was his or her job to take care of you. Now the roles have changed, and you likely want to do all you can to protect your parent in his or her later years. By following these five tips, you can help your parent make the most of the golden years.