Thanks to Father Time and copious amounts of prescription drugs, people are living longer. But with longer lives, comes the potential for increased healthcare needs. One moment your parents seem relatively healthy, the next mom ends up hospitalized with pneumonia and her early onset dementia makes her think Chaka Khan is her nurse, and dad is homebound watching the History Channel with the volume cranked up to 90. How the hell did this happen?
Whether you like it or not, you are officially on the rollercoaster ride to elder hell. It’s a horrible ride full of twists and turns, and at many points you want to vomit. There are some things you can do to make the ride a little more tolerable. The next few weeks I will be writing about some ways to help deal with the old people in your life-your parents. In this post I am going to talk about the first step in managing your aging parents: getting their shit together.
At first, it is uncomfortable talking to your parents about the morbid topic of their impending deaths. Go ahead and feel sad for about twenty seconds and then put on your big boy pants and get over it. You have to or you will not stay focused on your task at hand: make sure your parents have a will and trust, each parent has durable healthcare and medical power of attorney documents (POA), and each parent has a health care directive (DNR) document.
If your parents do not have these documents RUN, don’t walk to the closest estate-planning attorney and get this taken care of a-sap! Why, you ask, do you need these documents? Well… if you do not have them at the ready, the hospital can sustain life to your mom or dad when there is no hope of improvement.
Let’s say dad has a stroke, falls, and doesn’t regain consciousness and requires life support. Horrible, I know. If the hospital doesn’t have dad’s DNR, the poor guy will be hooked up to machines living like a celery stalk until he dies. Also, you can’t roll in and have dad taken off life support unless you have his will, DNR, and medical POA indicating his wishes. Without these docs, you and your parent(s) have no say how they live or die.
Oh, and hospitals still charge you even when mom or dad lay there like a vegetable. After 100 days of Medicare coverage mom and dad have to pay the bill out-of-pocket if they don’t have supplemental insurance, and even then the expenses will be high. There goes your massive inheritance and their last shred of dignity.
Working with your parents allowing them to decide how they want to live and die will save you and your loved ones a lot of hassle, confusion, and heartache down the road. Once that is done, get your own shit together and get your estate planning completed.
For more information on how to start the estate planning process with your parents click here.
In my next series of posts I will delve into the dumpster fire called Medicare and Medicaid, talk about WTF long-term care insurance is and why you and your parents need it, and how you shouldn’t be too proud to beg (literally beg) for assistance.
If you are in need of an estate-planning attorney feel free to contact me directly and I can put you in touch with my amazing attorney. Happy planning!
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