Very few of us want to intrude in our parents’ lives. It is only when we begin to notice certain “things” about Mom and Dad that we begin to consider stepping in. Problems such as memory loss, dementia, diminished sight or hearing, or irrational investment or spending decisions, are signs it’s time to intervene. Plus, none of us is immortal. As your parents reach their 80’s, it is time to make sure their financial house is in order. My observation is that loved ones who are quick to provide care and support for their aging parents are often hesitant to get involved with Mom and Dad’s financial affairs. You just don’t stick your nose into other people’s business, especially your parents’ business. The aging parent often contributes to this reluctance. Opening up this part of their life is difficult; an admission that maybe they aren’t as sharp as they used to be.
Once you’ve made the decision to get more involved, several questions must be answered:
- What needs to be done? What is the appropriate level of care and/or type of living arrangement? The answer depends on both medical and financial considerations. Often this decision is made after consultation with your parent’s physician or a geriatric care manager.
- Who will be in charge? Unless you are an only child, in which case the answer is you, this task frequently falls to the sibling who lives closest to the area where your parent resides. Sometimes, you and your siblings will decide to share the responsibilities. In other instances, the sibling with special skills or aptitudes may be chosen. Sometimes, the job goes to the sibling who feels the most obligated. It’s a tough, emotionally draining job, so whoever is in charge will need lots of support.
For one Lansing, Michigan family, the adult children of local couple Ron and Lydia Barnes stated Monday that it was pretty clear which sibling would be handling all the nursing home stuff. “When the day comes, Sarah is obviously the one who will explain to Mom and Dad that it’s time for them to pack up and move into a retirement facility,” said Andy Barnes, 35, referring to his older sister, whom he identified as the one who calls the most often and has “even driven them to the rheumatologist once or twice.”
“It’s a Sarah thing, for sure. She can handle those things easily enough: finding the right place, signing them up, dropping them off, stopping by regularly, making sure the bill gets paid on time. I actually think she’d kind of like doing it.” Sources confirmed that Ron and Lydia are hoping for Sarah as well, since the prospect of depending on one of their other children for care “absolutely terrifies [them].”