Quoted from the AARP Foundation, “Prepare to care: A planning guide for families”
The care recipient’s wishes and priorities are the cornerstone of every family caregiving plan.
Lack of planning doesn’t mean there is a lack of commitment. On the contrary, families often avoid discussions about the future simply because they don’t want to think about changes in the lives of the people they love the most. Like writing a will or buying a life insurance policy, contemplating the “what if’s,” especially a serious illness or a loss of independence, can be downright depressing.
Failing to plan for future responsibilities can make a bad situation worse. The loved ones you tried to protect by tiptoeing around “uncomfortable” issues will be the ones who end up suffering the most. While you might not be thinking about it now, putting together a caregiving plan with your loved ones and other family members helps eliminate problems at home and work. In addition to minimizing the last minute scrambling and family tensions that commonly arise when a once-independent loved one needs more consistent care, a caregiving plan can also help reduce a family’s financial strain.
The truth is that family caregiving responsibilities take a toll on family finances.
It’s not just the caregivers who are affected. Without a caregiving plan, those family members most affected by the crisis—the care recipients themselves—end up with the least say in their wishes and priorities for the future. It’s hard to imagine not having control over your own future but too often that is what happens when families don’t ask the important questions ahead of time.
You want to be able to focus on your parents when the decision has been made to move them from their current home into something more manageable, even a retirement home or assisted living.
Having patience during this time can be quite difficult, especially when you are trying to deal with your everyday life, alleviate their anxieties, possibly deal with medical issues for your parents, and now the sale of their home!
Missed details can slow down or even derail the process.
Obviously each situation is going to be unique, with people and dynamics affecting each situation uniquely. Here are some suggestions to start you off.
- Take an inventory of the items and furniture in the home. Make decisions on what items are going to go with your mom and dad to their new home (keeping in mind that there will be a change in available space for their items) and what will be given to a relative, donated to charity, put in storage or thrown away. Many memories will be attached to their belongings so make sure that your parents and siblings (if applicable) are closely involved in this process.
- Enlist the help of professionals! There are many services available to you to make this easier: professional home stagers, house cleaners, residency counsellors from the home you are looking into, REALTORS, etc.
- REALTORS® will help you asses the home at the proper market value rather than being easily tied up in the emotions that the home holds. They will have advice on how to make the home more attractive to buyers and have many contacts that will do the legwork for you in the sale of the home.
- The Government of Canada has tons of links on their website to assist with financial planning, housing needs, advice on lawyers and the importance of an enduring power of attorney. See list of links below.
- Have your parents speak or write down their wishes for the future so that they don’t get lost in the flurry of changes.
- Know where all of the important documents are located. Make a list noting where they are stored and attach copies as well. Documents to include would be:
- Life Insurance Policy or Policies Disability Insurance (long- and short-term)
- Long-Term Care Insurance
- Safety deposit box(es), location(s), number(s), keys
- Address Books (names and addresses of friends and colleagues)
- Lists of church & community memberships and contact information; Information on waiting lists or contracts with retirement communities or nursing homes
- Information on cemetery plots and funeral & burial instructions
- Plan for care of family pets
- Birth Certificate
- Marriage Certificate
- Death Certificate (for Deceased Spouse)
- Divorce Papers (if applicable)
- Driver’s License/Organ Donor Card
- Passport/Citizenship Papers
- Mortgage or rental documents and bills
- Utility bills power company; gas company, cable/internet, telephone
- Homeowners insurance policy and insurance agent
- Title for car and car insurance
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Records of any personal loans made to others
- Information on bank contact or financial planner