Most adults are ill-prepared when their parents become ill and are facing long term care issues. We just don’t think to sit down with healthy parents and address the possible issues the future might bring. Usually we wait until something happens and sometimes it can be more difficult to get the answers we need. What happens if your parent has a stroke or is involved in an auto accident? It will be very difficult if they are in a debilitative state and unable to answer your questions.
Here are some questions that should be answered:
- Who are their doctors?
- Do they take any medications? (Are any of these blood thinning medications?)
- Are they allergic to any medications?
- Do they have a “living will” or a “do-not-resuscitate” (DNR) order. Do they carry a “donor card”?
- What is their health insurance plan? Where is the card or paperwork?
- Do they have a Medicare Drug Card?
- Do they have Medicaid?
- Does diabetes or heart disease run in the family? Or general family health history.
- Do your parents drink or smoke? Or have they in the past?
- Have they had any prior surgeries?
- What religion are they? (Some religions do not allow blood transfusions).
- If necessary would they want a chaplain or their pastor present?
(The pastor’s name and phone number).
- Do they have a written will?
- Do they have any special wishes?
- Do they have a pre-paid funeral?
- Do they want a particular funeral home to handle their funeral?
- Date of birth?
- Location of Birth Certificate?
- Location of Social Security card?
- Do they have a Safe-Deposit Box? Where is it located? Where is the key?
- Location of Driver’s License?
- Location of titles to vehicles?
- What vehicles are insured and what are the account numbers?
- All bank accounts; names and locations of the banks and where they store all of
their paperwork, statements, checks, and receipts.
- Where do they store their old tax files? Who filed their forms for them?
- Do they have any IRAs?
- Do they have any Mutual Funds?
- Do they have any Annuities?
- Do they have any Life Insurance policies?
- Do they have Long Term Care Insurance?
- What are their utility bills and how do they usually pay them?
- Do they have any debts?
- Do they belong to any associations and are there dues or fees?
- Do they have any payments that come out of a banking account automatically?
- Do you have a key or access to their house?
As the population grows older, there will be more people faced with the decisions of elderly care. It can be frustrating and stressful when faced with putting a loved one in an assisted living situation. It helps to be as prepared as possible. Half of all nursing home residents have Alzheimer’s or a related disease. The average nursing home cost per year is around $42,000 and up. The average stay in a nursing home is 2-5 years. The statistics show that anyone who reaches the age of 65 has a 40% chance of entering a long term care facility.
Medicaid, Medicare, Medigap
Medicaid is a State and Federal Government program set up to help the low income and those with limited assets. The coverage varies from state to state. Medicare does not generally pay for long term care or pay for help with activities of daily living, for example: eating, dressing, bathing, and using the bathroom. This is termed as “custodial care”. Sometimes Medicare will help pay for skilled nursing or home health care if you meet certain conditions, for instance, if you have just been released from the hospital.
If you are 65 or older and have high prescription drug costs, you may be able to get help with a Medicare Drug Discount Card. This could provide up to $600 in savings each year. Check the availability and terms with Medicare.
A Medigap policy is a supplemental health insurance policy sold by private companies to fill in the gaps with the Medicare Plan coverage.
Now is the time to prepare for the future or to set things up according to your age or the age of your loved one. Don’t wait until it’s too late.