Most of us reach a point in life when parents, elderly relatives, or friends begin to require more of our attention and time, and sometimes, our financial support as well. Caring for or helping manage the finances of an elder can be complicated, and few of us are trained for the many aspects of that care. That’s why it helps to have someone to turn to for answers — or for help with the questions you should be asking other professionals, such as legal, tax, insurance, or health care practitioners. Your investment professional can be that resource. With MFS Heritage Planning® materials such as this guidebook, a familiarity with your financial situation, and a strong conviction that careful planning can itself be an attractive “investment,” your investment professional is well prepared to guide you through the complexities of helping your parents. Developed by MFS®, in cooperation with Ceridian Corporation’s LifeWorks Services, this guide should help you answer some basic questions about eldercare. If you need further assistance, contact your investment professional.
There may or may not be a single dramatic moment when your relationship with an older relative shifts and you take on a bigger role in his or her care. However these changes begin, your new responsibilities will raise some issues you may not have thought about. You may find it hard to admit that a person you have depended on in the past may now have to rely on you. In turn, the older person may fear becoming dependent and a burden. At times you may disagree about how to do things, or even what to do. And your older relative’s need for independence may conflict with your need to know that he or she is safe and comfortable.
You and your older relative will both be better off if you get involved before problems develop into crises. Early involvement gives you and your family the time to understand what your older relative needs and wants. It will also give you a head start in identifying the resources you’ll need, some of which might not be available right away. The sooner you act, the better off you’ll be and the more choices you’ll have in the long run. When you start to notice changes in your older relative’s behavior or health, it is natural to look for quick solutions. But, if the situation is not an emergency, it’s a good idea to take some time, gather information, and pinpoint the problems. As you begin this process, involve the rest of the family. Share your concerns with your older relative and with other family members. Enlist their support in understanding the situation and exploring what steps you might take. Talking with your relative It can be difficult to talk with an older relative about your concerns for his welfare, but it is very important. Think of how hard it would be if you were in your older relative’s place. He may be afraid of losing independence and control. Coping with the loss of a spouse or the death of friends, decreasing abilities, and growing dependence can mean loneliness, frustration, and depression. Your older relative may not believe that, despite limitations, new opportunities are possible. Accepting help is difficult for many people, and this may be an obstacle, too. Some older people, including those who are financially able, may hesitate to spend their money for services they need. Here are some ideas for discussing important, but difficult, issues with your relative.