Tips for Managing Aging Parents

Michele P. Fuller
If you do not know where to start, call an experienced elder law attorney.

If you do not know where to start, call an experienced elder law attorney.

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Managing a career and family, and balancing those needs along with your own, can be challenging. As a mother of four teenagers and the owner of a busy practice, I get it. Now, add in the needs of aging parents on top of all your other obligations, and life can feel like handing an anvil to someone who is drowning. Here are some tips to help you better manage when life happens.

Before you talk to your parents about any planning they have put in place, it is helpful to go through the process yourself. Your best resource is an experienced elder law attorney. Elder law is a specialty within the probate and estate planning practice, and elder law attorneys will identify potential problems as well as provide resources. They tend to work with a team of professionals who can offer more comprehensive planning. Even if your parents have an existing estate plan, you need to know where they store it. If possible, make an electronic copy and keep it stored securely. Ask where they store their relevant financial information, and if their plan has not been looked at in the last five years, it is time for a review. Ask your parents how they feel about nursing home placement and if they have long-term care insurance. If you do not know where to start, call an experienced elder law attorney who can ask questions you may not want to and who can construct a plan that meets your parents’ current and future needs.

If you are concerned about managing your aging parents’ care needs, there are several public and private resources. Private resources are typically through long-term care insurance or other investments and savings. Some Medicare Advantage plans provide for long-term care; however, Medicaid is most often the only long-term care resource available. An elder law professional will be able to assess your parents’ needs and provide options that will help meet their wishes and needs. You can find an experienced elder law attorney through national organizations such as Elder Law Answers and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

Do not be afraid to ask for help, whether it is from your spouse, siblings, in-laws, or coordinating professionals. However, do not resent those who fail to volunteer or do not meet your expectations. After your parents are gone, they are the family that is left. Never promise anyone that you won’t put your parents in a nursing facility. You do not know what may be ahead for them and you don’t want to make promises you can’t keep. Working with an elder law attorney can help pull together a comprehensive care plan as well as guide your family through struggles and provide emotional support throughout the process.

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Michele P. Fuller

Michele P. Fuller is the owner of the Michigan Law Center, PLLC.