Increasingly, my friends and I are starting to see the same thing: elderly parents and grandparents who are grappling with memory loss and finding it difficult to manage their finances. And most of us, I'm learning, are making the same mistake: we're waiting too long to act.
Baby Boomers are discovering that one of life’s most difficult passages is when the child becomes the caretaker for his or her parents. Tough subjects and hard choices can leave us paralyzed when we need to act quickly.
Communication, early and often, is critical.
The primary problem with understanding and caring for elderly loved ones lies in recognizing a deteriorating mental condition. Alzheimer’s, for one, affects one in eight persons over the age of 65. Simple dementia, on the other hand, is difficult to define, but far more Americans within that age group suffer from it.
If your elderly loved ones may be susceptible to Alzheimer’s or dementia, there are certain warning signs to recognize and steps to take. While there is no consensus on exactly how to approach the problem, a recent SmartMoney article titled "Talking to Mom About Alzheimer’s and Her Money" provides some practical advice on understanding and discussing the problem.
Simply put, there are red flags that cannot be ignored. It is necessary to address this subject with your elderly loved one and begin to take steps to provide for their interests and care. At a minimum, make sure fundamental legal documents are signed while your loved one is mentally capable of understanding. Such documents should include Advance Health Directives, a Living Will, a Financial Durable Power of Attorney and a Last Will.
Here’s the bottom line: if you and your loved one wait too late to have “the conversation” and take action, then the result may be unnecessary legal fees, courts and costs.
Reference: SmartMoney (May 7, 2012) Talking to Mom About Alzheimer's and Her Money