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Finances: How to Care for Ageing Parents

Difficult as it might be to contemplate, there may come a time in your parents’ lives when they are no longer able to make decisions about their own finances. Choosing to step in and take over the management of your loved one’s financial arrangements can be tricky. Even if they can see it is in their best interests, many elderly people will still find it hard to accept and may view it as a loss of independence.

Start Talking Early

If your loved one falls ill suddenly or if they develop a progressive condition such as dementia, you may have to step in and manage their finances with little warning. To be as prepared as possible, it’s important that you open a conversation about their finances with them early on. Starting a dialogue means you can ask them the questions you need to while they are still able to answer them and find out what their long-term wishes might be.

You will need to find out the basics from them, such as where they hold their accounts, where they keep their financial records, how they currently pay their bills and whether they have any insurance policies you should know about. The more information you can find out, the more prepared you will be to help your loved one further down the line.

Power of Attorney

It might be wise to discuss taking out a Power of Attorney arrangement, to enable you to manage your loved one’s finances and health care arrangements. This means you have the authority to make decisions on their behalf. You will be able to manage their bank accounts and organise the paying of bills and care fees.

Protect Your Loved Ones

When someone is no longer fully able to make financial decisions on their own, they can often be taken in by unscrupulous people. Scams and schemes to trick the elderly out of their money arrive in all sorts of guises, from phone calls and people turning up on the doorstep to a torrent of letters and junk mail. To protect your ageing parents from this kind of situation, there are things you should look out for and certain steps to take to minimise the risks.

If you notice that your elderly loved one is receiving a lot of goods through the post or a high level of junk mail, it’s worth questioning where it’s coming from. People can sometimes be ashamed when they realise they have been tricked, but you can help by offering reassurance and taking proactive steps, such as unsubscribing them from mailing lists, setting up telephone preferences to block cold calls and perhaps asking Royal Mail to redirect your loved one’s post to you.

Dulcie’s care story

Dulcie is one of our longest serving customers. In this video, she and her family talk through their decision to arrange care in the home rather than the care home.

Discuss Care Options

Elderly care is a complex area, and discussing all the options with your loved one will help you to reach the best outcome for both of you. In some cases, your relative may express a wish to move into a care home, where they can receive 24/7 care, but when asked, the majority of elderly people say they would prefer to receive care at home, and that independent living is important to them.

Being cared for at home is a particularly good choice if your loved one needs specialist dementia care or Alzheimer’s care, as moving into an unfamiliar care home can be a distressing experience for someone suffering from memory loss.

Regardless of what kind of private care you choose, the first thing you should do is ask the local authority where your loved one lives to carry out an independent care and support assessment. This is to establish the level of care that your loved one needs and to draw up a care plan. If they meet the eligibility criteria, they may be entitled to financial support.

Any support they are entitled to can be put towards the cost of live-in care. This in-home care might take the form of daily visits from domiciliary workers, or it could be a live-in carer).

Domiciliary caregivers will assist with basic tasks such as getting your loved one up, dressing and washing them and putting them to bed. This can work well if a lower level of assistance is required, but it is not ideal if your loved one needs more help. A domiciliary caregiver has a limited amount of time to spend with each client, and there are no guarantees that they will arrive at the specified time if their previous appointments overrun.

On top of this, your loved one will be left alone for a considerable period of time and may see multiple different carers. This can be upsetting for them, especially when intimate tasks such as grooming and hygiene are carried out by an unfamiliar person.

Live-in care can be as affordable as a care home, but it allows your ageing parent to remain in familiar surroundings. You can find private live-in care independently, but many people choose to access live-in care through a specialist provider. An agency will try to match your loved one with a carer who shares their hobbies and interests, and in many cases, this means that a strong bond of friendship can build up between them.

The caregiver will share your loved one’s home and offer round-the-clock support with everything from washing and dressing to providing meals and taking them to appointments and social events. Carers can also play a useful role in protecting your loved one’s finances, as their presence means they are less likely to be taken in by scams.

Taking control of an ageing parent’s financial arrangements can be a complex process, and at times you will find it challenging. It’s crucial that you talk to your loved ones about their wishes as early as possible so that you know that you are making the right decisions when you start managing their finances and arranging care provision for them.

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