Getting older: How to plan financially for taking care of older, sick family members

Published 7:19pm Friday, February 14, 2014

First it’s just forgetting to put keys in their regular place or finding the TV remote control in the fridge. Next a bill or two doesn’t get paid. Eventually the mailman becomes suspect and no one outside the family can be trusted. Finally, the most immediate family members are no longer trustworthy.
While the onset of dementia is both disconcerting and scary, it’s also very common as people age. While the onset can’t always be anticipated, you can begin to plan for this common occurrence before symptoms take hold. There are significant social, medical, financial, legal and tax implications that come with living with such diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
For example, who will care for the patient? Currently, 80 percent of care provided at home for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is delivered by family caregivers, with less than 10 percent of older adults receiving all of their care from paid workers. For friends or family members providing this care, the physical, emotional and economic stress can be overwhelming. Long-term care insurance could pay for assistance when it comes to physically caring for the person.
Given the longer life expectancies of today’s seniors, it’s important to plan ahead just in case you or a loved one becomes incapacitated in the future. This includes planning for long-term care insurance, health directives, a durable power of attorney to protect your property and the transfer of your estate. You can’t always know if you or a loved one will become incapacitated by dementia or other disability, but because this affects so many people, it’s a good idea to have a contingency plan in place while you possess a sound mind and reasonably healthy body.
The Alzheimer’s Association suggests following these planning tips:
u Start talking about finances and future care as soon as possible.  Early planning allows the affected person to be involved and express his or her wishes.
u Get help from professional tax, financial and legal advisors.
u Explore all insurance options, particularly Medicare and long-term care policies.
u Employers may also offer benefits – short-term disability, sick leave or paid time off for caregivers – which could help if dementia affects your family.
u Learn if your family could qualify for income tax breaks.  Allowable expenses include medical fees, costs of prescriptions and transportation and home modifications.
u Take advantage of community services.
Source:  Alzheimer’s Association, 2012 and Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, 2012.
Material prepared by Raymond James for use by its advisors.  The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.
Stephen P. Poitevint is a Registered Principal and Financial Advisor with the firm of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC, and is located at 908 Tallahassee Highway, Bainbridge, Georgia, and can be contacted at (229) 246-7208 or www.poitevint.com.

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