F INANCIAL F O R U M
How Creating a Plan Can Make ‘Parenting Your Parents’ Much Easier CARING FOR MOM AND DAD
One of the greatest joys of my career is seeing clients hit life’s various milestones. There’s the excitement of purchasing their first house or saving for their kids’college educations. Sometimes, we manage the dread of unexpected obstacles, or we celebrate when they first become grandparents. We grow together each year, and the latest trend I’m helping clients with is guiding them through the process of parenting their parents. I’m currently earningmy certification for long-term care (CLTC), which will allowme to better serve clients and those searching for better living alternatives for their parents. During these courses, I’ve been engrossed in the various options and costs that come withmaking these decisions, and I already feel better prepared to help clients create tangible plans to service their needs and their parents’needs. With the population of elder communities growing, many adults are finding themselves in the unique role-reversal of having to care for their parents. (Check out“ParentingYour Parents”by Bart J. Mindszenthy and Michael Gordon if you are in search of a good book on this topic.) And what I’m learning throughout this certification training is that many parents and children have unclear expectations of what this new relationship will look like. Some children think their parents are invincible, so they shy away from the responsibility of caring for their parents. Others step in too far and take toomuch control. Meanwhile, their parents believe that the children would have no problem picking up their lives and stepping into the caregiver role, even when they are caring for families of their own. Believe it or not, you can find a middle ground by creating a plan together, and a perfect example of this is our experience withmy mother-in-law, Joanne. Years ago, she andmy father-in-lawmoved fromWestfield, New Jersey, to a cottage home in a continuing care community near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They created their own life with this tiny community in their golden years, but, in 2015, my father-in-law passed away. Suddenly, the support system Joanne had always leaned on was gone. Joanne is a strong woman, and she tried tomanage it, but, as she was aging, the need for care became toomuch. My wife, Becky, and I urged her tomove closer to family or into a facility that might be better suited for her. But this condo was Joanne’s home, and she felt strongly about staying where she and her husband sharedmany
memories. Shortly after, Joanne underwent numerous surgeries and fell a few times. We joke that she even got on a first-name basis with the ambulance driver, but, humor aside, this helped sway her decision to look for a home withmore care options.
Ultimately, we found an assisted living facility close to Becky andme, but there were challenges onmoving day. Still, the entire process took us three days, as Joanne struggled with downsizing. However, we have a great, patient teamof nurses and aids helping Joanne. Despite some hesitancy, today Joanne is doing well and will turn 91 this month. A major blessing and contributing factor to her success is that a portion of her bills are paid for by long-term care insurance, whichmeans she can focus more on her own well-being, rather than paying bills. We also truly believe that her friend in this facility, Ursula, has been her guardian angel. Throughout the process, we did receive some kickback from Joanne about moving, but I’mproud of the way we worked together. She knew it was time, but transitions like these are oftenmet withmany emotions. Caring for your parents is awkward and unfamiliar, but it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Inmy personal and professional experience, a plan won’t ease all your fears and worries, but it will make this transitionmuch easier. For Joanne, having our support and the backing of long-term care insurance made the transition easier. We can research plans and discuss long-term care protection tomake this process easier for you and your loved ones, too. Parenting your parents doesn’t have to be an awkward struggle, and, in the end, it’s worth it. —Brian Irving
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