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Start the conversation on financial and health issues with aging parents this Thanksgiving

11/17/2015 4:17:22 PM

The financial well-being and long-term care needs of aging parents can be among the most sensitive, difficult issues for families to discuss. The Minnesota Department of Commerce is encouraging Minnesotans to take the time to talk with their loved ones this holiday season about their financial commitments and long-term care wishes.
While it may be an uncomfortable topic, it’s important that adult children have these discussions with their aging parents ahead of time to prevent potential problems and misunderstandings down 
To get the conversation started, Minnesotans can use these questions for a productive discussion:
5 Tough Questions to Ask Aging Parents
  1. Do you have any serious health issues? Openly discuss with your parents any chronic illnesses or conditions that require recurring treatment. Request a list of medications and doctors’ contact information. If a parent has a history of prolonged physical illness or disability, you may want to research long-term care options.

  2. What is your financial situation? If an elderly parent’s health suddenly takes a negative turn, out-of-pocket expenses can add up quickly. Discuss all sources of income and insurance coverage to determine how and if your parent might cover unanticipated medical treatment. If your parents agree, familiarize yourself with their insurance coverage and financial assets such as savings, pension plans, stocks, IRAs and 401K plans. Income, assets and insurance affect Medicaid eligibility and Medicare options.

  3. Where would you prefer to live if you could no longer care for yourself? Is your parent comfortable with the prospect of living in a nursing home, or does he or she have plans to move in with a family member or friend should special care be required? Be open and direct about your ability to honor these wishes. If your parents need nursing home care, it’s important to know if their monthly income meets state eligibility requirements for Medicaid.

  4. Who do you trust to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated?Encourage your parent to officially ask someone to serve as his or her medical and financial proxy or power of attorney. It is best if your parent chooses someone to trust with making their financial decisions, and if that is possible, there is agreement within the family about who is being entrusted with these responsibilities. It is also important for this person to maintain clear communication with family members.

  5. What are your end-of-life wishes? Individual feelings vary regarding the prospect of having one’s life prolonged by the use of medical equipment and medication. Know your parents’ views, and make sure their preferences are recorded in an official document such as a living will or advanced health care directive long before they no longer are capable of expressing informed consent.
Commerce is here to help
Call our Consumer Services Center at 651-539-1600 or toll-free at 800-657-3602 (in Greater Minnesota) if you have any questions about financial services or believe you are the victim of a scam or fraud.


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