Almost 42 million adults in this country are caregivers to family members who are 50 and older. Only 40 percent of caregivers live with the person who is receiving this care. Providing long-distant care to recipients in another state or close or distant city is more challenging and should be considered in estate planning for seniors.
Legal and financial issues
Events occur suddenly and may need to be addressed immediately. The current pandemic and the fact that as many as 80 percent of caregivers are working can further delay needed intervention.
A power of attorney for financial matters allows a family member or other trusted agent to act on another person’s behalf and take care of their needs. A health care directive authorizes the release of confidential heath information under HIPAA to another person who can help with their health care.
Find out where important documents are kept and agree to access to this information. These documents should be placed into a binder or other easily retrievable format and kept in a safe place.
Important documents include social security and Medicare cards, tax returns, bank and financial statements, and insurance policies. You should also locate and have access to estate planning documents, marriage licenses and birth certificates.
Have a contingency plan to assure someone can act immediately in an emergency or urgent situation. Prepare a contact list of neighbors, friends, and church members to help support your parent or other family member and remain in contact with them. A medical alert system also helps assure that care is summoned quickly.
A geriatric care manager or social worker may do a needs assessment and help coordinate shopping, transportation, and medication administration. They may find assistance for daily activities like bathing, going to the toilet, eating, dressing, and getting in and out of bed.
Keep in touch and visit with your parents or other family members so you can assess their appearance and condition. Bringing or sending small gifts helps keep you in contact and shows that you are thinking about them.
If frequent visits are difficult, try to use technology such as FaceTime or Zoom. Purchasing a smartphone or having someone teach your parents how to use it is another reasonable option. If possible, include nurses, doctors, or other caregivers in your conference calls so everyone is hearing the same information and answering questions.
An attorney can also provide other legal options to assure that these matters are addressed. Lawyers may also prepare powers of attorney and other estate documents to fulfill these needs.