A Holiday Heart to-Heart Conversation

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The gift that keeps on giving
By Lori A. Leu

In addition to opening gifts with your aging loved ones this holiday season, consider opening the door to something even more enduring – a conversation about their future. Similar to the angst a parent feels when having “the talk” with their preteen children, starting a conversation with a senior you care about can be just as arduous. Instead of avoiding sensitive matters, speak openly and honestly about your need for information when the time comes to make decisions on their behalf.

Opening a conversation about aging and care can be overwhelming. Consider starting with these important topics:

  • Housing — No one knows what the future holds, but the key to feeling secure is being educated about your options. Some people want to stay in their own homes as long as possible and bring in help to manage their care. While your loved ones may prefer in-home care, there may be a time when it is not enough. There are many housing options for seniors, from independent living communities to assisted living communities to skilled nursing facilities. Elder Law attorneys can help you sort through payment options and the possibility of public benefits.
  • Finances — Money matters can be especially sensitive for seniors. Careful planning can help protect assets and life savings from the increasing costs of long-term care. it is crucial that your loved one designate trusted individuals to act on his or her behalf in financial and legal matters through a proper Durable Power of attorney. This will help preserve assets when they are needed most.
  • Health — Healthcare has become one of the most confusing and uncertain issues we face. Long-term skilled nursing care typically bears
a heavy price tag. Unfortunately, Medicare and other types of health insurance only cover an initial period of rehabilitation. Your loved one may qualify for public benefits, such as Medicaid, veteran’s benefits and other public programs.  Elder Law attorneys can help you navigate these programs and evaluate the options 
to ensure your loved one receives the level of care needed. Elder Law attorneys can also help outline wishes regarding health-related decisions through a medical Power of attorney and advance Directives.
  • Disposition of Assets — Elder Law includes estate-planning issues such as wills, trusts, and property transfers. As time passes and circumstances change, it is often necessary to re-evaluate those plans.

As this holiday season approaches, consider having a heart-to-heart conversation with your aging loved one. The peace of mind for your family will be the gift that keeps giving for years to come.

Lori A. Leu, Erin W. Peirce, Lauren Olson, and Laura Chavero are Elder Law attorneys with Leu & Peirce, PLLC in Plano, Texas. They help clients sort through these issues every day and can be reached at 972-996-2540.

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