Friday, July 8, 2011

Your Not So Elderly Parents Moved to Florida or Arizona or North Carolina or Wherever

But now your very elderly parents live in Florida or Arizona or North Carolina or Wherever.

I was with a client, Anne, that had moved to Florida from New York a number of years ago. She and her husband were 'young' retirees, quickly made new friends and began a new phase of life. Their children stayed in the Northeast and established their own lives and families.

Fast forward 20 years --Anne's lifestyle has dramatically changed. Her husband has Alzheimer's and is now in a nursing home. Anne goes to the nursing home each day, does his laundry, supervises his care, brings him food, and tries to provide him with some socialization. She's taking great care of him. What's going to happen when Anne needs some similar type of care?

There isn't a boilerplate answer to this situation. Every family situation is different and everyone needs to address their own particular set of circumstances. Here are some questions that may help define the issues specific to your family.

  • Can you and your siblings work together to come up with a plan?
  • Is one of you willing to take the lead, be the point person and be comfortable that they have the support of the other family members?
  • Do you know the state of your parent's finances?
  • Is there Long Term Care Insurance?
  • Can your surviving parent afford to pay out-of-pocket to have help in the house in the event that they can't stay home alone?
  • What is your surviving parent's feeling about applying for Medicaid if they don't feel that they can afford nursing home care?
  • Is there a significant difference in the finances of you and your siblings? Can one of you help out financially more than the other(s) and how do all of you feel about that?
  • Is the surviving parent willing to relocate to where one of the children live?
  • Was a goal of your parents to leave a financial legacy to their children? Or, is the surviving parent willing and comfortable using up most or all of their money on their own care during their final years? How do each of the siblings feel about their parent using up all of their money if that situation arises?
  • No matter what the quality of home health care or nursing home care, there needs to be someone paying attention, someone to be the elderly person's advocate. If there isn't a family member able to do that due to geography, family relations, or other reason, are there funds to hire someone?

Speaking in generalities, it is typically the woman that is the surviving elderly parent. The woman has been the mom, the caregiver, the nurturer. Now someone has to step up to the plate and make sure she's taken care of.

As a lead in to my planned next's called Family Dynamics - We've all got them. I have a feeling you can predict where this is going!!

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