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Facing Hard Truths: Clients Will Help Care for Their Parents

With a person turning age 65 every eight seconds, according to AARP, and 55 percent of Americans having no retirement savings whatsoever, chances are some clients are going to have to take on the emotional, physical, and financial task of caring for an aging parent.

Nobody wants to face this. We don’t want to think of our parents getting older and (shudder) even passing away and our parents probably don’t want to think about it either.

But Americans are living that reality. AARP reports that adult children contribute anywhere from $7,000 to $14,000 to care for parents, and the National Caregiver Alliance reports that 29 percent of Americans are providing care for an ill or disabled adult.

“It’s outrageously expensive,” said Nelda Mays, an Atlanta resident who cares for her 87-year-old father told NPR in a September episode of The Call-In about elder care.

During your clients’ later working years and perhaps a few years into their retirement, they may be caring for aging parents. With that in mind, these could be some helpful tips for clients:

If they’re looking for a facility, Brian Lee, director of Families for Better Care in Texas, said that clients should familiarize themselves with their state’s laws, rules, and regulations, in addition to federal laws that oversee the different care options. Lee told NPR listeners that nursing homes have the most protections. He also advised people to visit the facility, chat with the residents, have a meal there, and ensure both the facility and residents are clean and well-kept.

If they’re providing home care to their loved ones, remind them to take care of themselves. Mays told NPR that caregivers need to rest when the person they’re caring for is resting.

Don’t dance around the issue. The sooner your clients talk to their parents about what they want, the better it will be for everybody. They don’t want to wait until their mother or father has a stroke to make rash decisions. It’s an emotional conversation—their parents might not want to face that they’re getting older or that they soon might not be able to live on their own.

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Ana Trujillo Limón is associate editor of the Journal of Financial Planning and the editor of the FPA Practice Management Blog. Email her at alimon@onefpa.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AnaT_Edits.