November brings families together and provides the perfect opportunity for caregiving conversations.
Updated: Oct 15, 2019
November is a time for family gatherings and reflection...I personally love the fall....cooler temperatures, brightly colored leaves under my feet, turtlenecks and cozy meals with the family and of course,Thanksgiving. I have fond memories of my large extended family gathering at my Grandmother's house for an amazing feast. The mood after dinner was always jocular and lifelong memories were made.
Because Thanksgiving weekend brings most families together, it's a perfect time to begin the discussion of caregiving. These conversations will be difficult as no one thinks they will need care or become disabled. We all want to live a long, healthy life without the need for care, but if they don’t already, most families will have someone who needs help with everyday activities such as bathing and dressing and it's usually a parent. Nearly everyone will need some type of care beyond age 65, but few people have a caregiving plan in place. Most long-term care events are not planned for and the family is blind sighted. This event impacts families physically, financially and emotionally no matter their financial situation.
Family dynamics have changed over the years: Adult children with careers and children of their own take on a second job as primary caregiver for their parent. A parent needing care may live in the same city as one of their children but everyone else lives in other locations which often results in the caregiver role be placed upon the local child. In blended families, non-biological adult children may be expected to take a caregiver lead for their step-parent. A spouse may be physically unable to provide care or doing so impacts their own health and lifestyle. Individuals with no family may have to rely on friends and community resources.
It all starts with awareness that a long-term care event can happen. From there it's good to know if they plan to stay at home and age in place or if they'd be open to moving to an assisted living perhaps. Asking whom they would or would not want caring for them is also important. Ensuring the proper estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorneys and health care directives are in place before incapacitation is crucial.
Financing of care is another big part of the conversation. There are misconceptions surrounding the funding of care that can create a great deal of stress. Families may incorrectly believe that Medicare will pay for long-term care and they often do not realize a spend down of assets occurs to qualify for Medicaid. Self-paying can impact the well spouse's life style, disturb a legacy plan and have unwanted tax implications. Many do not know about the long-term care insurance options that exist today. Having these important discussions now while your loved ones are healthy is imperative for not only the one receiving care but for the family members who are entrusted to follow the caregiving plan.
Sadly, these conversations did not happen in my family. My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42 and her death two years later came without a caregiving plan in place. Again years later when my Grandma had healthcare issues, there was no caregiving plan in place. The lack of a plan in both situations caused stress between the family and took a toll on relationships. We can keep this from happening by starting a caregiving discussion. By engaging in a dialogue about aging, incapacity and mortality, children will feel relieved to know their parents wishes and parents will have peace of mind knowing their wishes have been documented and their plan will be followed by their loved ones.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family, good food and laughter and just maybe the beginnings of a caregiving conversation...for which everyone will be thankful.
Join me on Saturday, November 9th at 11:30 a.m. as I discuss:
Planning for Care as You Age https://www.reedinsurance.net/workshops