Article:

Planning for care, supporting your parents as they enter the next phase of their lives

19 December 2019

Natasha Johnson |

The majority of seniors want to maintain their independence for as long as possible, but more often than not there will come a time when they require support. Your parents were there for you and now you need to be there for them, so how do you support your parents during this challenging time without causing conflict or taking away their sense of independence?

Family meeting

Your parents may be in good health currently but that could change overnight. Rather than waiting for a health crisis, set a formal family meeting where your parents can discuss their wishes and everyone can get on the same page about what is best for your parents.

The mortality of your parents is a confronting topic to approach and there may be resistance to have a family meeting from your parents or siblings. The meeting is likely to be very emotional for everyone involved but it is going to be a lot less stressful to have a plan and be prepared prior to a change in circumstances occurring. 

Current and future care

As your parents become less capable of looking after themselves, it is important to know what their wishes are in terms of receiving care and how these costs can be funded.

If your parents wish to stay in their home, some considerations include:

  • Modifications to their home to ensure it remains safe and comfortable
  • Applying for a home care package (basic, low, intermediate, or high levels of care)
  • How connections to family, friends and the community will be maintained to avoid social isolation.

Alternatively, if your parents are comfortable moving into residential aged care when the time comes, some considerations include:

  • The ideal facilities and amenities provided by an aged care home and what this is likely to cost
  • How will the initial and ongoing care costs be funded.

Starting the research and planning into suitable homes sooner rather than later will mean that you are likely to have a wider range of options to choose from and better outcomes for your parents.   

Financial affairs

In addition to understanding their care wishes, it is important to establish the financial position of your parents and who will be responsible for managing their finances once they are no longer able.

Important information to obtain from your parents can include:

  • Details of their accountant, financial adviser and solicitor
  • Where important financial and legal documents are stored
  • Details of investments (bank accounts, shares, superannuation etc)
  • Current sources of income and how much income is received
  • Ongoing bills (telephone, electricity, health insurance) and how these are paid.

Whilst finances can be a sensitive subject, it is in the best interest of your parents to ensure their bills are paid and any income and investments are being properly managed.

If you have any questions around how best to plan for the next stage of your family’s life, speak with a BDO wealth manager.