Today’s letter moves into ELDERCARE which we haven’t touched in over a year. Every family goes through times of caring for a major dependency, whether aging parents, or accident/illness of a spouse or child. Certainly this is NOT just about elders because age alone won’t determine when families need more support. So while I mention eldercare please remember this can apply as we care for dependents at any age.
New Realities In Eldercare
I was a teenager when grandparents of my friend Rick moved from Saskatchewan to the family’s basement in Victoria (ground floor access). I enjoyed visiting them, hearing stories, and seeing how they appreciated our youthful antics. Unknown to me, behind the scene there were ongoing daily demands of “eldercare” to assist their immobility and illness.
Now there is a vast system of eldercare to offer support because people have fewer children, families live at greater distances, and the “aged” usually prefer to remain with their own communities and friends. Senior living comes with various names and services, ranging from $3,000 to $12,000 or more per month.
Legal issues can be more thorny than cost of care. Consider if elderly parents, needing help in personal care and financial decisions, have given one or two people the Powers Of Attorney while other family members disagree on the POA’s actions. Sibling rivalries can inject conflict instead of peace, harming the future of family relationships. Children can end up in court where litigation further stresses the family and siphons away the savings which naturally were intended for personal care and family estate. (Ref: Foley v. McIntyre began in 2003, later reached Superior Court in 2013, and an appeal in 2015, costing near $1,000,000.) There must be a better way!
Do you feel people should discuss such matters in their families? A Roper Public Affairs and Media poll (2006) showed that elders and their adult children were waiting for each other to open the subject of aging and the eventual challenges that arise. Fewer than 8% of both elder parents and their adult children had spoken about long term care decisions. Less than one in five had discussed life insurance and wills.
Often it is a great relief when both generations get time to focus on a few vital questions, for example: (1) As health may someday deteriorate will you prefer to remain in your home or eventually move to a location with ongoing care? (2) What is most important to you for comfort, companionship, and daily activities? (3) What are your wishes about resusitation, end-of-life care, and organ donations? (4) What cemetery and funeral arrangements have been made, or if none, can we start to document this? (5) Is your Will up to date and where is it located? …and are some items to be quietly distributed among family and friends that are not named in the Will? (6) Are there special needs for a family member or charitable giving? If you’re needing help with such conversations, let me know; we can help.
Eldercare Dispute Resolution
Eldercare Dispute Resolution (EDR) is helping to regain harmony and cut costs. This is a logical three-step process. (1) It begins with a professional assessment of needs, capacities, and the roles of various family or other persons, in order to foster a comprehensive action-plan. (2) A designated mediation team meets with the senior/s and related parties to navigate outstanding issues and reach consensus for best action and results. (3) Family &/or professional support now follow the resulting agreement, with the mediator available as/when needed further.
Results:Preserve and enhance the care that is best for older family member(s). (2) Protect and support the health of family relationships. (3) Eliminate contention and costs of proceeding to court. Mediation is faster and costs less. It focuses on immediate results and healthier relationships. When people can reach a satisfactory agreement, every member of the family can win.
Chief Justice Warren Winkler (Ontario) had a personal mission to require that family law disputes would have to begin with mediation before ever landing in court. As legislation moves slowly he retired before achieving his goal. Every family however has the option to use EDR. The Lawyer’s Daily (April 13/18) describes EDR as a valuable concept to reduce costs and resolve disputes, quickly and efficiently. Managing the crisis and resolving any conflicts helps ensure care and harmony that are vital those receiving care.
Our aging society and personal longevity naturally increase the incidence of dementia and other cognitive disorders. This presents a vast array of decisions for healthcare, financial and legal matters, accommodation, personal comfort and caregiving – sometimes with less than 24 hours’ notice! Family may at times complicate this with differing emotions and expectations, memories, and sentiments about choices, costs, and desired levels of care. It’s a potential mine-field when parents failed to clarify advance guidance, or where siblings disagree about their parents’ wishes. As an added complication, half of families today still have no Will, and seven out of ten have no Powers Of Attorney for personal care and property.
Susan Hyatt is a pioneer in EDR and her firm Silver Sherpa is a well-reputed resource. She describes this as counselling / consulting a conflicted family group to reach healthier and cost-effective healthcare in the event of chronic health decline, loss of a spouse, or any number of financial issues. A related resource is Paul Iacono LLB and his firm, YorkStreet Resolution Group.
NEXT MONTH: RDSPs
Many families have someone with a disability (at any age) who could qualify for the Disability Tax Credit. Anyone from birth to age 49 who qualifies for DTC can also open a Registered Disability Savings Plan. Many advisors and firms have left this opportunity under a stone. We have clients whose families are benefiting tremendously – and it could be highly valuable to other families who didn’t realize how to apply for the RDSP and qualify for federal grants and bonds. More on this soon! Meanwhile consider whom you know that could benefit in learning about this.
Freely share this letter whenever it can help a neighbour or friend, and ease the concerns of someone you know. Introduce us — we love to help.
Yours in Financial Security for LIFE!
Brian Weatherdon, MA, CFP, CLU, CPCA. 905-637-3500
627 Guelph Line, Burlington, Ont. L7R 3M7. 1-877-937-3500
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