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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

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Kearny, NJ 07032-3010
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Talking with parents about long-term healthcare options

Talking with your parents or grandparents about their long-term health care plans can be challenging. Many people do not want to approach the topic because their parents are still relatively young and fairly healthy. Some people worry that asking their parents about long-term care may feel like an infringement on their independence or autonomy.

However, when this conversation is approached in the right way, it can actually have the opposite effect on seniors. Telling your parents that they will be making the decisions regarding their care can make them feel empowered. For individuals in New Jersey who are facing this situation, working with seniors to create an estate plan can help alleviate some of the tension. Whether you are talking with your parents about their care plans, or making plans with your spouse, there are four conversations that should take place:

Financial: Talk with your parents about their investments and retirement accounts. If they are not comfortable having that conversation, ask them to put all the information in one box, and tell you where it is located.

Legal: Work with your parents to make sure their wills, trusts and other estate planning documents are current. If they do not want to make certain decisions, having you as their durable power of attorney could be beneficial.

Medical: Become familiar with your parents' health records. Learn what medications they are on and what conditions persistently bother them. It's also a good idea to talk about what should happen in the event of a medical crisis.

Long-term care: If your parents want to stay in their home, find out what modifications need to be made to enable them to stay there longer. It may also be a good idea to discuss financial plans for a nursing home or an assisted-care facility. Many of those programs are not covered by Medicare.

Planning ahead and having conversations before they are needed can help seniors feel comfortable with the choices, and it can help take some of the pressure off caregivers.

Source: USA Today, "Long-term care 'conversation' can be hard to start," Janice Llyod, 2 March 2011

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