Caring for Your Aging Mom as You Near Retirement

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May 10, 2023 •  The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC
When caring for your aging mom, it's essential to discuss a plan for the future while she is still in a sound state of mind.
Robert W. Haley, managing lawyer
Robert W. Haley
Certified Elder Law Attorney® Robert W. Haley brings over 27 years of legal expertise and knowledge to his firm, which concentrates solely on the areas of elder law, estate planning (Last Will & Testaments, Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trusts, etc.,.) Asset Protection/Medicaid Planning and fiduciary services. For many years, Robert practiced in real estate law, and in general practice, but decided to narrow his focus to elder law and estate planning when he realized the tremendous need for proper planning to be filled in Southside Virginia.

Mom’s aging.  And the faithful caregiver who has been there for you throughout your life may now be starting to show signs of aging like forgetfulness or anxiety over making big decisions.  If dad's passed away or unable to help care for mom, sooner than later, whether she wants to admit it or not, she will need your help.

As life expectancy increases, and baby boomers advance well into senior years of their own, the need for caregiving will only continue to rise. But who will provide caregiving for mom once her memory really fades or she needs regular nursing care?  What happens if a nursing home is necessary?  Do you know whether mom has a plan for nursing care expenses if she might need institutional or in-home care in Lynchburg?  What legal documents does she have in place to express her wishes for care?

According to Wealth Psychology Expert and Coach Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, 61% of women would rather talk about their own death than money.  Many older women were raised thinking that “it’s a man’s job to manage money,” and therefore, women are often uncomfortable talking about money or finances or may simply be unaware of their own financial situation.  Yet, you may find in your conversations with mom about planning for the future that she’s grateful to have help with these issues. As she continues to age, it’s more important than ever to plan a discussion now.

Here are some tips on how to broach the sensitive subjects of money and mortality with mom.

Schedule a time: This can be an overwhelming topic, but don’t ignore it. Scheduling dedicated time to open the dialogue and creating a timeline to complete the basic estate planning documents can make the process more manageable and keep everyone involved accountable.

Share your knowledge:  Share what you know about what the documents mean, how and when they come into play, as well as what happens in the state of Virginia if there’s no estate plan in place. Remind mom that this is her chance to ensure that her wishes are carried out.

Ask questions: If your mom is still in a sound state of mind, she is in a position to be involved in the decision-making. Ask her open-ended questions like what, if any, estate planning your mom or parents may have done.  Start by asking if she has met with an estate planning attorney to have a Will, a Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy and a Living Will created.  Document as much as possible without judgment. Talking about planning for incapacity may be a harder conversation. What resources are available if needed for long-term care? If she owns a long-term care insurance policy, find out where it is so you can access it if and when the time comes. Does her estate plan include a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT) or has any Medicaid planning been done? Our article, How to Talk to Parents about Estate Planning provides additional guidance.

Share your plan: Sharing your ideas and discussing your own plans can ease tension and help eliminate fears. It shows your mom that she's not alone in the planning process. If she has not had any legal planning completed yet, explain what you have done for your own family and explain why it’s important for you as a parent, and for her as a grandmother, to take care of this.

Leave the conversation open-ended: The key to these planning conversations is empathy because many seniors are experiencing a variety of emotions. Reassure mom that you’re available for future conversations and will plan to check back in at the times set forth in the timeline you created together.

You’ll also want to talk with mom about providing information for financial, legal, and medical contacts. This can be a little overwhelming, so it may help to break this into a series of categories. Try setting a deadline for one checklist a week.

This is the contact information for professionals in the Lynchburg area with whom your mom or parents have worked, as well as service providers, that you’ll want to gather:

Legal and Financial
Estate Planning Attorney
CPA
Financial Advisor
Retirement Accounts
Pension 
Social Security
Investments
Checking and Savings
Insurance Policies – Home, Auto, Umbrella

Medical
Primary Care Physician
Pharmacist
Ophthalmologist
Any other health care providers
Medicare or Health Insurance Company

Household
Electricity
Mortgage or Rent
Cable 
Landscaper
Telephone
Auto Loan or Lease Payments

Online Accounts
Social Media
Websites
Streaming Subscriptions

Community Contacts
Community Organizations
Homeowner’s Association
House of Worship

These are not easy conversations for many adults, so be patient with your mom. It may be hard for her to become comfortable with sharing this kind of information or perhaps she doesn't know the answers to many of these questions, so there might be quite a bit of investigative work involved.  Remember to schedule several times to meet with her so that neither of you becomes overwhelmed. The time you spend now to gather her information and gain an understanding of the support available to her in the Lynchburg area should she become incapacitated will be invaluable in the future while you are caring for your aging mom.

Plus, The Estate & Elder Law Center of Southside Virginia, PLLC is here to help you with caring for your aging mom.   Every day we assist aging moms create estate plans to protect everything they have and everyone they love.  Book a free call with our team of elder law specialists or share this article with a mom you love.

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