How to Care for an Aging Parent

By Ted Gudorf, JD, LLM

It’s a realization we all come to at some point: our parents, who used to care for us, now themselves need care. How to care for an aging parent is a financial and personal conversation many adults will have, and it includes planning for today and for the future. Discussing this with your aging parents or relatives makes the transition much smoother.

Let’s look at how to care for an aging parent, including everything necessary to have those important conversations.

1. Have a Will and Trust in Place

When discussing care for an aging parent, first make sure they have both a will and trust in place. Wills help protect your parents’ assets and may help prevent squabbles and disagreements in the future.

Trusts are also important estate planning documents you should consider when looking at your parents’ future. Trusts go into effect when they are signed, meaning that they can dictate what your parents do with their assets while they are still living. This is in contrast to wills, which generally only go into effect after a person passes away.

2. Have the Long-Term Care Conversation Now

Discussing long-term care and estate planning is never fun, but it’s an important conversation to have—and the sooner, the better. Set aside a time when you can talk to your parents about their wants and needs when it comes to long-term care and how they hope to spend their golden years. Some questions to prompt these conversations might include:

  • Who will provide care for them?
  • Who will pay for the care?
  • Does it make sense for them to have long-term care insurance?

The answers to these questions will help you and your parents gather the information needed to make sound decisions about the future.

3. Make Sure All Legal Documents Are in Order

There is a lot of paperwork to manage when considering care for an aging parent, including simple things like making sure all the bills are paid, to more complex things like appointing a power of attorney to act on your parent’s behalf if they are unable.

One out of three Americans over age 85 has Alzheimer’s disease, so it’s important to get all legal documents in order when you can. (1) There’s a good chance that a time will come when at least one of your parents is no longer able to make decisions for themselves, so it’s best to know who will make those decisions if and when the time comes.

Having simple powers of attorney written up will save you the trouble of going to court to request the right to help your parents when they need it most. And if your parents are comfortable with it, it would be a good idea to have a trusted family member added to a bill-paying account. This way, if an emergency comes up, they can access cash reserves to pay bills and debt payments immediately instead of waiting for assets to be released or legal documents to be enacted.

4. Make Time for Your Parents

While it’s important to have all the proper legal documents in place and have a plan for how to take care of your parents, for most people, their biggest regret is simply that they didn’t make the most of their time with their parents.

We all know our time is limited, so we should spend it investing in those we love. Carve out quality time to spend with your parents, even if it’s just something small here and there. Coffee dates on the weekend, a dinner at home, or planning a vacation together will go a long way. Don’t count the seconds with your parents, but make the seconds count.

5. Seek the Help of a Professional

At the end of the day, you aren’t a legal or financial professional and you have a million other things on your plate. Whether your parents are excited to talk about the future and the logistics of planning or they’re dreading the conversation, bringing in an objective professional can help set the stage and prepare for these important decisions.

If you would like help planning for your parents’ future, we at Gudorf Law Group specialize in smart planning for worry-free living; and in that planning, we discuss long-term care and caring for an aging parent. We can help you navigate your decisions and provide estate planning services, nursing home crisis planning, estate administration, and more.

We know that thinking about caring for an aging parent can be deeply unsettling and complicated. That’s why our Gudorf Law Group team is here for you. Reach out to us today for a no-obligation conversation to see if we’d be a good fit for you. Contact us online or by phone at 937-898-5583 or email us at admin@GudorfLaw.com.

About Ted

Ted Gudorf is the founder and managing attorney of Gudorf Law Group, LLC, a boutique firm with estate planning attorneys, tax advisors, and elder care lawyers focused on helping families and businesses plan for the future. With over 35 years of legal experience, Ted concentrates his practice in the areas of estate planning, probate, elder law, and other related matters. Ted is known for building strong client relationships and helping his clients solve problems and make decisions. Ted has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wright State University and a J.D. from the University of Dayton School of Law. He was the first attorney in the state of Ohio to obtain a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree in estate planning and elder law, which he received from Western New England University School of Law. He was also one of the first attorneys to be board certified by the Ohio State Bar Association in estate planning, trust, and probate law, a status achieved by fewer than 200 attorneys in Ohio. He has an AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Ted is the co-author of The Estate Planning Guide and When A Client Dies: A Legal Guide, published in 2009, and For Ohio Doctors, published in 2010. He is also a founding trustee of the Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project, and previously served as the first mayor of the city of Clayton, Ohio. When not practicing law, Ted enjoys spending time at the beach, wine tasting, going out for dinner, and watching his favorite teams, the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Browns. He is active in the Dayton community, serving as president of the board of directors of Life Essentials, Inc., a nonprofit agency focused on providing guardianships for mentally ill adults with limited financial resources. To learn more about Ted, connect with him on LinkedIn. You can also register for his free webinar on How to Protect Yourself and Your Family with a Living Trust.

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(1) https://www.alz.org/media/documents/alzheimers-facts-and-figures-2019-r.pdf

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