Aging Parents: No Plan For Paying The Bills

A recent survey conducted by only reinforced was most of us boomers know about the reality of paying for the care of aging parents. It found that 63% of caregivers “have no plan as to how they will pay for their parent’s care over the next five years.” Understandably a similar percent of survey responders admitted that the cost of caring for a parent will impact their own financial future.

I am not all that surprised by this finding. We all knew it would come to this, but I don’t think any of thought it would be this severe. We all sustained a high level of magical thinking that “things would work themselves out.” They have but in a far more punitive and draconian fashion. Now what?

I think the only hope for Boomers at this point is “total mobilization” of resources. This means creating an inventory of all actual resources and all potential resources that could be helpful. This could include family members, neighbors, religious organizations, city and state programs, and senior services professionals. It also include information about reverse mortgages, wills, power of attorney, probate, long term care, medicare billing, independent and assisted living, and fall prevention. Once you start it, it will take on a life of its own.

This “proactive inventory” will be robust and insightful. It will for the most part end magical thinking and give you a real assessment of how you are going to fund, organize, and manage the drama of your aging parents. It will also show where you need to do major homework.

My suggestion is to get a sturdy, accordion file that holds your inventory in progress. Having everything in one place will prove to be a miracle unto itself. A good example of this is the “What You Need To Know Kit” that was created by Camille Jayne for unlocking the mystery of wealth management You can find out more about the kit at . Camille’s insight is that chaos (i.e. important papers and reference materials scatted everywhere) only makes the process worse. I wholeheartedly agree.

The next thing you need to do is to set some modest but measurable goals. Your initial inventory will show you the obvious gaps. Your first goals should address these gaps. Organize your goals into 30-day timeframes. Most of us can barely think beyond next week. Don’t try and make up for past mistakes. This is not a marathon, pace yourself. A few goals that you can do each month will deliver major results in a year. Just work the 30-day window, log your progress, and recast new 30-day goals. Nothing fancy, just a steady, really effective goal setting ritual that will dig you out of a world of trouble.

Lastly, create a draft of a crisis plan. If your aging parents suddenly crash, what’s the plan? Who is in it. Who are the key medical, financial, and legal players? Do they know you? Do they know your are essential to the plan? Where are the funds, the phone numbers, and the keys to the house? Use your 30-day goal system to fill in the gaps.

This is just a start and certainly others have more elaborate systems for doing this. But here is what I know about how this works after twenty years of coaching adult children. Just starting turns out to be the magic bullet that can avoid a poor outcome. Most our us don’t start; we think about starting. If we do start, we don’t have a ritual to keep it going. What I am suggesting gives Boomers a way to start and keep it going. It also provides a realistic view of what’s possible, where there is immediate work to be done, and a much needed crisis plan.

One response to “Aging Parents: No Plan For Paying The Bills

  1. Your articles are very helpful to me, as an elder law attorney, and as the son of an 87 year old parent who has been progressing through the levels of care. My sister and I have been working together on care coordinating. We were able to coordinate private duty care for our father in assisted living for many months, thanks in part to your book “How to Say it To Seniors” and your continuing article updates. The experience has made me a more compassionate elder law attorney for my clients.

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