DES MOINES, Iowa, July 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Providing care for an aging family member is now the number one family-related legal concern, according to new research1 by ARAG®, a global provider of legal solutions. The level of concern is up five percent since last tracked in 2007.
It's a valid concern: about 70 percent of people will need some form of long-term care at some point in their lives. About 65.7 million people in the U.S. (one in four adults) were unpaid family caregivers to an adult or child in 2009.2
"Most of us know our parents may need help someday – but we're never quite prepared when that day happens," says Dennis Healy. When his mother-in-law was diagnosed with a progressive lung disease that eventually left her homebound, Healy found himself in the middle of a major family dilemma.
"I sat there at work watching dozens of emails from family cross my desk. Everyone was asking, 'How are we going to deal with Mom?' No one knew what to do," says Healy.
Even though Healy has been a featured speaker on long-term care and currently represents legal insurance products, some of which provide caregiving services, he didn't have all the answers. Instead, he called a patient advocate, available through his legal plan at work. "The advocate was able to walk through the situation with us and set expectations. The family regained some control once they knew what options they had."
"A big question in caregiving situations is what would the parent want?" says Healy. "If the parent is incapacitated or overwhelmed like everyone else, it can be tough to know what that is. Talking about possible scenarios in advance can help ease stress and ensures that everyone knows the options." Here are a few questions to ask to help start the conversation.
- What is your parent's financial situation? "This includes knowing where checking and savings accounts are held, as well as if any financial planning has been done to deal with a long-term care situation," says Healy.
- Does your parent have a Durable Power of Attorney? This document gives someone else decision-making power if the parent becomes incapacitated. Everyone needs to know who can write checks for your parent and who is responsible for paying bills and manage finances when it's needed.
- Does your parent have a Healthcare Power of Attorney? Who will make medical decisions if the parent is unable to do so? Does that person know he or she is responsible and the preferences of the parent?
- Does your parent have a Living Will? Different from a Healthcare Power of Attorney, this document spells out a person's wishes about medical and life-sustaining procedures. Who has been named? Does he or she know the parent's wishes?
- Is there a plan in case the parent becomes incapacitated? Does the parent have preferences on where he or she will go? Has any financial planning been done to manage this possibility?
- Is there a Will? While this can be one of the toughest questions a person asks a parent, simply knowing where it is located and who is responsible for managing the estate can save everyone some stress.
Families may want to take other proactive measures like learning about options that provide assistance in these situations. Long-term care insurance which pays for long-term care is more difficult to find and often very expensive. Some companies combine life insurance with long-term care insurance, and the benefit paid depends on what is needed.
Caregiving plans, like those that may be included with a legal plan from ARAG, can be a low-cost way to prepare for a long-term care event for yourself or for your parent. Typically available as an employee benefit, plan members have access to patient advocates at an affordable rate which can help minimize stress and provide a greater sense of control. To find out more about how legal plans work, visit www.ARAGgroup.com.
"Having the right resources in place helped us manage this moment as well as could be expected," says Healy. "They made it much easier for all of us to navigate the maze of the long-term care event."
1 "Measuring the Effects of Employee Financial and Legal Woes," conducted by Russell ResearchSM and commissioned by ARAG, March 2012.
2 "The Basics," Longtermcare.gov. 2013. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
ARAG ® (www.ARAGgroup.com) provides affordable legal solutions through trusted service to help people protect what matters most.
ARAG is the world's largest privately owned legal solutions enterprise. The company has an international premium base of nearly $2 billion and protects 15.5 million individuals and their families – worldwide. We are committed to providing our customers a choice of legal solutions to help them live a life full of opportunities.
We demonstrate expertise, integrity and passion in everything we do to serve our customers and make a positive difference in our community. We are proud to sponsor ARAG Free Will Day, providing low and middle income citizens with free access to attorneys for the creation of important legal documents to protect their family, finances and future.
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