Caring for an aging parent may feel like life has come full circle: they cared for you throughout your younger years, and you now may be facing a future of caring for them. You won’t find yourself alone with this responsibility: according to AARP, an estimated 38 million people in the U.S., or 11.5% of the population, are taking care of loved ones.

Many who provide care for an aging parent are also in the complicated situation of parenting their children. Close to 4.5 million people in the U.S. are members of this “sandwich generation” – between two generations that require care. Beyond the emotional and physical aspects that come with caring for a parent, the financial challenges can be significant, particularly if you are supporting your own children as well. 

Caring for an aging parent doesn’t have to be financially overwhelming – with strategic foresight and careful planning, you can prepare for this stage in life and treasure the time you have together. This checklist for caring for an aging parent can get you started on the right path to plan for the future.

 

Understand the Financial Impact

An important first step is reviewing your parent’s financial situation so you can understand their income sources and current expenses. Aside from the regular expenses your parent may have, their healthcare costs may become considerable, particularly if they require prolonged medical care. A parent turning age 65 today has close to a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care support through their remaining years. 

Will you be caring for an aging parent in your home and hire a home aide? Or will you be a caregiver to a parent living in an assisted living facility or nursing home? The costs of caring for your parent can vary greatly depending on their living situation and the care they may need.

Does your parent have long-term care insurance? Long-term care insurance policies offer protection against the financial impact of costly extended care needs, and can help preserve your parent’s savings (and potentially yours as well). Long-term care insurance can also provide in-home care and home health care, which can help relieve some of the stress and burden of physically caring for your aging parent yourself.

Take a look at your parent’s income, including pensions, retirement funds, Social Security benefits, and investment income, to get an idea of how their potential expenses will be met. If you anticipate that you’ll have to help out financially, review your savings and investments as well to see what adjustments you can make so that you can offer that support without compromising your own financial security. 

Have Legal and Estate Plans in Place

As you prepare to become a caregiver for an aging parent, legal and estate planning become the foundation and guide for the care you provide. Talk to your parent to see what legal and estate plans they have in place. These are difficult conversations to have with your parent, but proactive legal and estate planning can help ensure a smooth and well-protected transition from their independent living to being under your care.

A living will outlines the medical treatment preferences of your parent, particularly in situations where they may be physically or mentally unable to communicate their needs. Through a living will, your parent can voice how they would like end-of-life, pain management, and medical intervention decisions to be made on their behalf, easing some of your emotional weight as a caregiver in critical times. 

A financial power of attorney grants you the authority to make crucial financial decisions on behalf of your aging parent. Power of attorney is required for you to access your parent’s funds for their care and enables you to make financial transactions for them, including banking, paying bills, taxes, or managing their Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Having an estate plan in place can further strengthen the financial foundation of caring for your aging parent by ensuring that their legacy continues according to their wishes. Inheritance planning can guide the distribution of assets among their heirs, helping to minimize the tax implications beneficiaries may have. Establishing a trust can offer protection of your parent’s assets and ensure a seamless transition of their wealth while potentially avoiding probate. 

Develop a Resilient Financial Plan

You can help minimize some of the financial challenges of caring for an aging parent through a thoughtful investment strategy designed to help you meet the financial needs of caregiving. A financial advisor can help you develop a comprehensive financial and investment plan that’s focused on your current and future objectives, so that you can be better prepared for the uncertainties of being a caregiver without impacting your own long-term goals.

It’s essential to balance your short-term needs and your long-term objectives in your financial planning as a caregiver. You may need immediate money to pay for expenses related to your parent’s healthcare, living arrangements, or other unexpected costs. At the same time, you need to maintain a continued focus on your own retirement planning and wealth preservation beyond your caregiving years. 

Your role as a caregiver has no set time length or path, and you may find yourself having to adapt to changing needs and unforeseen circumstances. Make sure to adjust your investment strategy as your and your parent’s financial needs evolve to safeguard your own retirement and help ensure a more financially secure future.

Remember to Practice Self-Care

Being a caregiver to an aging parent is not just a financially demanding responsibility, but an emotionally and mentally challenging one as well. It can be difficult to witness the toll that age takes on your parent, and the pressure of caregiving can be extremely stressful. 

Make sure you take the time to practice self-care so that the stress, worry, and anxiety don’t cause you to become overwhelmed. Caregiver burnout is real, so make it a priority to seek out support if you need it, take breaks to recharge, and focus on your own well-being. Taking care of yourself will enable you to take better care of others.

How Five Pine Wealth Management Can Help

Caring for an aging parent is not an easy task, but it can go more smoothly with strategic, careful planning. The financial impact of caregiving can be significant, but having a well-constructed financial plan can help ensure that providing care for your parent does not risk your own financial security.

At Five Pine Wealth Management, we can help you develop a financial plan based on your unique circumstances and objectives. As fiduciary financial advisors, we are committed to offering guidance and advice that’s in your best interest to help you reach your financial goals. To find out how we can help you plan and prepare for every stage of life, email us or call us at: 877.333.1015.