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Checklist: Caring for an Aging Loved One

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As average lifespans continue to increase, many will be faced with the challenge of caring for an aging loved one. This can seem overwhelming, financially and emotionally. We want to help. This checklist can help you manage the variety of considerations, both as caregiver and care recipient.

Health & well-being

  • Work together to identify and document medical professionals, pharmacy, medications and dosages.
  • Develop a network of potential caregivers, including family members, friends, neighbors and health- care professionals.
  • If the situation warrants, consider purchasing an alert system to call for help in an emergency.
  • Discuss sharing access to medical information through a healthcare power of attorney (POA) to ensure Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) privacy laws are met. Without this, a medical provider can't give medical information to anyone other than the patient.
  • There are a number of resources available to help caregivers. Research organizations such as the Alzheimer's Association (www.alz.org), the Caregiver Action Network (www.caregiveraction.org) and the Family Caregiver Alliance (www.caregiver.org).

Housing

  • If your loved one can continue to live in his or her home, research local social service or faith-based agencies that may assist with volunteer home maintenance or other needs.
  • Work together to assess whether your loved one's current living situation is still a good choice with respect to mobility, cost and maintenance issues.
  • If your loved one has trouble with stairs or other obstacles, discuss options for improving access and safety.
  • Gather information about assisted living facilities and other long-term care options. See the U.S. Administration on Aging's Eldercare Locator at www.eldercare.gov.
  • Understand the different levels of care available at senior living centers – independent living, assisted living, nursing care, etc. – to determine the right place for your loved one.

Financial considerations

With your loved one's consent, work together with him or her to:

  • Review financial records and insurance coverage to get a clear picture of his or her situation.
  • Identify a strategy to make financial decisions. Who will handle daily money management? Will a group work together to make larger financial decisions?
  • Make sure all medical and financial documents are up-to-date. Complete any forms now to ensure those designated by your loved one can access his or her accounts and safe-deposit box. Ensure coordination with existing POA documents to prevent inadvertent revocations.
  • Establish a trusted contact on your loved one's financial accounts. The trusted contact cannot transact on the account but provides a contact if the account owner cannot be reached and is feared to be subject to potential fraud or exploitation.
  • Research trust services options to manage expenses, investments and financial paperwork. Edward Jones Trust Company may be an option as successor trustee, discuss with your financial advisor.
  • Meet with your financial advisor to review the caregiver's life insurance policy to ensure it provides for the needs care of loved ones in the event that something would happen to the holder.
  • Look into local property tax deferral or abatement programs. For more information, start by searching your state's Treasury office or contacting the local appraisal office.
  • Establish direct deposit of benefit checks into bank and brokerage accounts.
  • Learn about his or her Social Security benefits at www.ssa.gov.
Navigate Medicare, Medicaid and any other health care benefits he or she may be receiving. this may include:

Important documents

  • Help your loved one locate his or her will, living will or health care directive and any trusts that may exist. Review them with an attorney to ensure all are up-to-date and in line with your loved ones wishes. If your loved one doesn't have these documents, consider setting up any that are appropriate.
  • Create a list of all your loved one's online accounts and documents, such as Facebook, email accounts and cloud-based photos.
  • Offer to accompany your loved one to meet with a financial advisor to review savings and investments, including Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), 401(k) accounts, and life insurance and annuities. Ensure beneficiaries are up-to-date.
  • Help locate any documents for prearranged funeral or burial arrangements.

Contact us today

Caring for an aging loved one can be a challenging responsibility, but you don't have to do it on your own. We can help. Talk to your financial advisor to identify strategies that may work for you. As part of your team, your financial advisor can incorporate many of the options above and run different scenarios to ensure you and your loved one can address these important considerations.

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