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What’s the Best Time to Talk to Mom about Cognitive Decline?

Delaying these discussions until a senior’s decline is evident may already be too late. CNBC’s recent article entitled “Waiting to talk finance with an aging parent in cognitive decline is a mistake, experts say” says that you should be talking to a an elderly parent while they’re still working because they’re still competent and still able to fund [long-term care] and pay the premiums from income.

Some events that could trigger these conversations include a parent thinking about downsizing, claiming Social Security, going on a long cruise, or noting that a friend is going into long-term care.

Ask questions to get a clear understanding of your parents’ financial situation. However, it is important to understand that gathering information may take several conversations.

When a senior appears to be declining, see how they respond to basic questions, such as whether they know how much money they have and where their financial documents are located. If their answers seem abnormal for them, they should have a trusted contact.

It may be time to consolidate their assets and, if they want a legacy, they may start Medicaid planning to conserve their assets through a trust that takes the assets out of their name. Ask an experienced elder law attorney about this.

Some documents should be completed at this time, if they haven’t already.

Adult children should get authorization to release information and/or designation of a representative forms from their parents’ insurance company and other relevant service providers.

A financial advocate, who’s usually a family member or friend, should be bonded and insured, with some kind of oversight by another party. The advocate can assist with major financial responsibilities, including:

  • Managing daily finances;
  • Navigating health insurance and other insurance policies;
  • Managing investments and sources of retirement income (including interacting with a financial advisor); and
  • Managing home and other property.

This is a way to maximize the older adult’s independence. A financial advocate uses the senior’s values and preferences to guide financial decisions, which prevents outcomes that go against their wishes.

Reference: CNBC (Nov. 30, 2021) “Waiting to talk finance with an aging parent in cognitive decline is a mistake, experts say”

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