Talking with your parents about disability planning can be almost as difficult as talking with them about estate planning, but it is just as necessary. Disability planning should be a key element in your parents’ overall estate plan. There are a number of conditions that could cause an elderly person to become disabled, but one of the most common, and dreaded is Alzheimer’s disease.
A very large percentage of people with dementia suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Though this does not mean that one of your parents will eventually be afflicted with this disease, it does mean that it is a possibility.
One of the most important reasons why it is important to have this discussion with your parents is so that you can find out what their wishes are now, while they are still of sound mind and healthy enough to let you know what it is they want.
For example, what are your parents’ thoughts on nursing home care? What do they think about artificial life support? What resources are available to help cover the cost of long term care?
These are all very important questions that you will want answers to sooner instead of later. Waiting until it is too late to help your parents plan for disability will only put more financial and emotional strain on the entire family.
When you sit down to have this discussion with your parents, you will want to address a few specific issues. These issues include asking what your parents’ wishes are as far as long term care, what legal documentation they currently have, what their medical preferences are, as well as what their current financial situation is.
Many people believe that they already know enough about their parents that they do not really need to have this discussion, but nothing could be further from the truth. Elderly people do not always inform their children of what is in their estate plan, what their financial situation is, or how they feel about long-term care and end of life care. Even if you believe that you already know enough about your parents’ situation that the discussion is not necessary, reconsider and ask them anyway. You may be surprised to find out that you are not as well informed as you thought.