Protecting Your Aging Parents: What Every Adult Child Must Know

If you are worried about your parents and their future you are not alone. “Getting old is NOT for sissies”. Normal aging makes day to day tasks more difficult, and even a sharp 90 year old will show some signs that their mind does not work as fast or well as it did when they were 50. Anyone who is on multiple medications and who suffers from heart problems, breathing problems and frequent urinary tract infections will have times when their health impairs their ability to think clearly and on occasion may even appear to have dementia due to the impact of their physical condition on their mind. The Alzheimer’s association reports that approximately 50% of people who reach the age of 80 will suffer from some kind of dementia.

It is important that an adult child recognize the reality that an aging parent may need help. Elder abuse is on the rise as the population of people over age 65 increases. As your parents age they become more vulnerable to scams, to undue influence by a child who has always been troubled and takes advantage of their parents dementia or inability to think clearly when they are sick. The only way to protect your aging parents from undue influence and scams is to be proactive. If you see a sudden changes, a parent who has fallen for a scam, stale food in the fridge, new dents in the car, forgetfulness, increased immaturity in decision making (e.g. buying things from TV ads), you need to consult with an Elder Law Attorney to discuss how you can protect your parent from scams and undue influence.

If your parent is suffering from dementia or multiple illnesses, they need to update all of their estate planning documents. Traditional estate planning plans for death (avoiding probate and estate taxes), an Elder Law Attorney will make sure that the estate planning plans for not just what happens when you die, but also what happens when you live and need long term care or help with your finances. Often when parents and adult children meet with an Elder Law Attorney, the adult children realize that they will eventually need help just like their parents do now, and will start planning for life with long term care expenses, and take advantage of their ability to leverage and protect their assets using the knowledge we have gained about aging and dementia to plan ahead so they don’t run out of money before they die.

The author Martha Patterson, will be providing more information about What Every Adult Child must know at the Senior Fair.