I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Genworth. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Parents aging? How do you ensure they are planning for it? It's time for #LetsTalk

My mom turned 70 earlier this month. It was a fun celebration (and I’m so grateful I found the perfect gift for her), but somehow the number 70 really makes it hit home that she’s getting older. My father turns 70 later this week. They aren’t young anymore. And my dad has backed into his closed garage door twice in the past few years, though he claims it had started to open and got stuck partway up and dogs in the car distracted him. My mom fell just trying to stand up at the Fourth of July parade. And when walking up the basement steps in our new home.

They’re getting more fragile, though they still are incredibly active and are great with the wee ones. My dad may sleep more and bow out of multiple activities in a day, but my mom is still game to spend an entire day at a theme park with us. Often, however, when I call to ask them a question, they’re either at or on their way to a doctor’s appointment. And it starts hitting home that things are changing.

My mom jokes that when she starts to fail, we should just put her in a home. My dad says he’s going to die in his house. And both statements – though said in jest – give me a pit in my stomach. Aging isn’t a joking matter in the end because there are so many impacts on so many people. As lucky as I am to live near my parents (and to have my sister live nearby, as well), I know that I can’t be a full-time caregiver for them.

And thus we have to start having some conversations about aging. I just had no idea where to start – and I know I’m not alone.

I’m lucky that my parents can still function on their own. They’re slowing down, and it’s starting to become visible, and I know that one day they’ll start to have difficulty getting dressed or shopping or develop chronic illnesses that require intensive intervention. Long term care helps with these challenges on a daily basis for an extended period of time, but it isn’t cheap. The fact that 70% of people who live past 65 will require some form of long term care is scary.

A year of adult day care is easily $16,000 per year. A year of home health aide services costs more than $45,000 on average. A one bedroom apartment in an assisted living facility is typically $42,000 per year, while a private room in a nursing home can easily run more than twice that cost. And right now, both my parents are alive, so let’s increase those costs substantially. Ouch!

My parents saved for retirement, and they’ve been smart with their money, but saving for long term care? That’s something few people ever thought about. Generally, people have no choice but to pay for their long term care needs out of pocket, and the thought of my parents needing me to help them for years with these costs makes me wonder what my own retirement would look like. Long term care insurance is an insurance policy that helps pay for the cost of long term care, just like we have insurance for our homes, health, cars, and more. Best of all, long term care insurance can be used for in-home services, which means my parents would be able to stay in the home they love much longer.

Yes, it’s an added expense for them now, but when looking at the cost of long term care insurance versus the cost of paying for needed services down the road, the cost today pales in comparison. Most people start planning for long term care between ages 50 and 60. My parents are past that age, and I have no idea what they have planned.

It’s time to figure it out. I’m ready to have that conversation now, and I think I know how to start. It’s as simple as sitting with my parents and asking them, “How do you want to age?” and letting it go from there.

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