Role reversal: When adult children become caregivers for their parents

Senior Resources

There comes that profound moment when you realize your parents are really aging. It may be a slow process–a minor surgery here, a slip of the mind there–and then it all changes. And when it does, you realize your roles are about to reverse.

Helping aging parents prepare for assisted living is a sensitive subject on many levels. Being prepared financially is one way to make the transition a lot more comfortable for the entire family.

Whether you’re already at this stage with your parents, or are anticipating it for the future, here is some advice you should consider.

Start a Conversation About Their Investments
Ask your parents about their investment accounts and savings to get a better understanding of liquid and non-liquid assets. This can be a sensitive conversation but is an important step towards ensuring their well being.

Understand Medicaid
Medicaid will help pay nursing home costs for people with limited income and assets. But they must first exhaust their assets to qualify, and eligibility varies by state. According to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, nursing homes can be so expensive that almost half of seniors who live for more than six months in nursing homes spend almost all their income and assets.

Look Into Long-Term Care Insurance
Long-term care insurance can help fund assisted living. However, policies can be expensive and unavailable to those who don’t qualify because of their health status – too unhealthy. Nearly 70 percent of individuals will need long-term care at some point, so looking into a policy may be worth the effort. The younger, the better when considering this option.

Ask About Their Life Insurance Policy
Ask your parents if they have life insurance. They may be able to sell their policy in the secondary market for an amount greater than the surrender value. If they can’t afford their life insurance premiums, or don’t need their policy anymore, selling it may help fund assisted living. Additionally, in some circumstances, they may be able to remove the burden of the premium payments and still retain a portion of the death benefit. Be sure to consult with a licensed provider such as GWG Life.

Gradually Prepare the Home for Sale
A home is one of the more common assets among older individuals. Gradually making improvements will help ensure it’s “sale-ready” when it goes on the market. Investing in new appliances and décor over time will allow your parents to update the home in manageable increments. And reducing clutter now will make the process that much easier when the decision is made to sell.

By following these guidelines, you will help prepare your parents for assisted living in a respectful, financially savvy manner. Opening the lines of communication and establishing a plan will reduce the stress associated with this life change. And keep in mind that starting early will help make the transition that much smoother when the time comes.

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