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Elder Abuse: How to Protect Your Loved Ones

25 Best Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents

By Dr. Katie Eastman, William Lightfoot and Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
From : Best Ever You

Former Sargeant, Bill Lightfoot, was a recent guest on The Best Ever You Show. Bill served with the Richmond Police Department for thirty-six years. He has served as an investigator and supervisor with the Property Crimes Unit, the Robbery & Homicide Division, The Narcotics Division, and the Criminal Intelligence Unit.

The show with Bill focused on caring for the elderly, elder abuse and ways we can be more mindful now to prevent or lessen issues later. To listen to the show Elizabeth and Katie hosted with guest Bill Lightfoot, click blog talk radio

The show prompted us to write these:
25 Best Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents.

1. What is most important to you about your aging?

2. If there is one thing you want to ensure happens when you are older, what would it be?

3. What are your three most important values? How do they relate to health, money and aging?

4. Have you thought about who best understands you and your values to make decisions on your behalf?

5. Do you have a certain idea/belief that you want to direct these decisions?

6. When you think about becoming medically challenged, what do you want others to know or to do or not do?

7. Do you imagine yourself living a certain way if you have future health challenges?

8. Do you have a living will or an advanced directive? (or Medical Power of Attorney)

9. Do you know someone who would best be able to make medical decisions on your behalf? Have you spoken with this person?

10. Do you know someone who would best be able to make financial decisions on your behalf? Do you have a legal Power of Attorney? Have you talked with this person?

11..Do you have a will?

12. Where do you imagine yourself living for the remainder of your life?

13.. Have you prepared yourself financially to support your aging medical needs?

14.. Is there an assisted living/nursing facility you would consider if it becomes necessary? Have you investigated different care facilities for quality/cost/needs?

15.. Do you have Long Term Health Insurance?

16.. Is there a friend/family member you would like to be closer to in proximity? What would this require if they are not close?

17. When did you last update your documents? Do you feel the need to update your documents? (Many fail to do this once they have a document in place.)

18. Have you discussed any of these decisions with anyone else? If so, who?

19. Do you have legal representation?

20. Do you have spiritual/religious beliefs and or a representative or organization in your life?

21. Is there any information/ documentation available somewhere (safety deposit box etc.) that may be needed to care for you?

22. Do you own objects that are sentimental and most valuable to you? Do you have them listed in a document/are they a part of a will?

23. What else about your aging is important to you?

24. Have I missed anything?

25. How can I show you the most love and support as you age?

More important than any question you could ever ask is to show love and compassion for the elderly.

Our Best,
Dr. Katie Eastman, Bill Lightfoot and Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino

Dr. Katie Eastman
Katie is the Founder of Children’s Palliative Care Community. Mentored by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Dr. Eastman has dedicated her career to improving the quality of life for seriously ill and dying children and those who care for them. She has a Doctorate in child psychology and a Masters degree in medical social work. In addition, she has studied and lectured extensively topics related to grief and loss, pastoral psychology, thanatology and all aspects of pediatric palliative care.

Katie serves as a Chief Advisor on The Best Ever You Network and is the co-host of The Best Ever You Show on Blog Talk Radio.

Bill Lightfoot
Bill served with the Richmond Police Department for thirty-six years. He has served as an investigator and supervisor with the Property Crimes Unit, the Robbery & Homicide Division, The Narcotics Division, and the Criminal Intelligence Unit.Bill served with the Richmond Police Department for thirty-six years. He has served as an investigator and supervisor with the Property Crimes Unit, the Robbery & Homicide Division, The Narcotics Division, and the Criminal Intelligence Unit.

Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
Elizabeth is the Founder and CEO of The Best Ever You Network and host of the top-rated blog talk radio program, The Best Ever You Show. Her father, James Hamilton is a stroke survivor since 2004 and a kidney cancer survivor since 2011.

Elizabeth was resuscitated in 1998 from an allergic reaction.

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How to help aging parents cope with debt

Updated: March 1, 2012 

CBS-8, San Diego

By Andrew Housser

For many people, as they age, the term “golden years” may be a misnomer. More and more people are struggling with debt, due to the combination of the recent economic recession, lower income as they age, and increasing health costs.

How tight are budgets? Among those older than age 75, nearly 40 percent lived below 200 percent of the poverty line in 2009, with annual income of less than $26,000 for a couple. And older people are going deeper into debt: In 2007, the most recent year with data available, people over age 55 had a median debt level of $43,000. That is 170 percent higher than in 1992. In 2007, families with a head of household age 75 or over spent 7.7 percent of their income paying off debts.

Times are tough: Among those older than age 75, nearly 40 percent lived below 200 percent of the poverty line in 2009.
If you are concerned that your parents might be struggling with debt, here are some suggested ways that you can start to help them get a handle on their financial problems.

1. Open the lines of communication.

Begin talking with your parents about their finances before they need help, if possible. Some families find it easier to open a discussion by mentioning an article they read on the subject, for example. Or you can ask in the context of a current event. It can be awkward to discuss your parents’ finances, but if you assure them that you are only wanting to be sure they are taken care of, you can start the conversation.

2. Determine the need.

Once communication is open, you can start to determine if your parents are in need of help or not. The first step is to ensure that your parents have food, shelter and health care. Especially if you suspect they are charging these expenses to credit cards, or going without, ask if you can help with these costs, within your means. Or help them find other resources to help.

3. Check that they are comfortable managing their money.

Many people have trouble managing their budget after they retire. Even people who live frugally might find that they simply cannot make ends meet. Other people face real challenges after they are widowed. If the spouse who handled the bills dies, the widow or widower might have difficulty coping with their finances on their own.

4. Decide on how much you can help.

If your parents are in need, are you able to assist them financially? If so, how much? Can you help with long-term care or medical costs? What about the cost of paying off debt? Can you help an elderly parent pay for the cost of assisted living, or would you prefer your mother or father live with you if they need support? Make a personal plan, together with your spouse and family if appropriate, to set boundaries that will let you help your parents, while not going into debt yourself to do so.

5. Stand on your own two feet.

Some adults are concerned about their parents’ financial lifestyles, but meanwhile, their parents are still helping to support them. A good step to help parents live within their means is to ensure that they are not still funding adult children’s lifestyles. Do not rely on your parents to pay for your education, student loan repayment, care payment, rent, utilities or other costs of living. Discuss this topic with your siblings as well. To go a step further, if parents are paying off a son or daughter’s student loan, or a parent loan taken out for the child’s education, talk with your parents to see if you can take on some or all of payments to ease the burden.

6. Consider medical expenses early.

A huge issue for aging people is the cost of health care. Be sure your parents apply for Medicare close to their 65th birthday. Find out if they have long-term-care insurance, and if not, if it makes sense for them to purchase it (it is less costly the earlier you purchase it). It is also possible for children to purchase insurance for their parents, or save money in a dedicated account to help with this expense later on.

7. Understand implications of debt on your parents’ estate.

Don’t panic if your parents have credit card debt. This is not license for them to build up credit card debt, but do understand that, to the extent the estate cannot cover the debts, children will generally not be liable for the debt after they die. (Laws vary by state, but typically, debts are paid by the estate after a death.) The major issue caused by debt is your parents’ quality of life and level of worry during their lifetime.

8. Be cautious about co-signing on debt with your parents.

If you co-sign a debt arrangement, and if your parent does not repay the debt, you will be liable to repay it in full. As such, approach this decision with a full understanding of the facts and the risks.

9. Get outside help if needed.

Some families find it is preferable to hire an outside bookkeeper to help parents with their financial management — and maintain their privacy. Other families divide and conquer, splitting up responsibilities among siblings or other relatives. Community organizations, from churches to nonprofits to social services organizations, also might be able to help with subsidizing bills, providing food assistance, or offering community resources. If your parents own their home, a reverse mortgage can sometimes help, allowing them to use some of their equity to fund living expenses now. Take the time to research your options and find help that works for your family.

10. Consider other means of help if their debt is overwhelming.

If parents are unable to pay their debt, are keeping lights off or skipping necessities to pay debt, or are dodging collections calls, you might need to investigate alternatives together. Many potential solutions exist for people struggling with credit card debt. Some people might qualify for a debt consolidation home equity loan. Others might benefit from debt management programs that can offer interest rate reductions, or debt settlement (also known as credit advocacy) for those in need of significant payment relief and principal reduction.

Whatever means you choose to help elderly parents resolve their debt problems, it is well worth opening the conversation with them. By helping them find better financial footing, you can both find peace of mind, and help make those later years “golden” after all.

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