4 ways to support your aging parents, aside from money

Aside from financial support, here are a few ways to support your aging parents and help your family navigate the next chapter ahead.

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As Canada’s contingent of seniors grows larger, expected to make up 23% of our country’s population by 2030, this group will also set out to navigate the challenges and expenses of moving into the next phase of life. For their adult children, this also means that more people will need to take on the role of caregiver for their aging parents. For many, the financial obligations will weigh heavy on their shoulders. 

However, supporting your loved ones in their later years is about more than just their finances. Emotions and logistical concerns also take centre stage during this time.

Here are a few ways to help your parents—and the rest of your family—navigate this phase:

Make a caregiving plan in advance

While nearly three-in-ten Canadians in their 40s or 50s are already directly involved in caring for loved ones—often a parent or in-law—an additional 40% of people anticipate taking on this role in the future.

As Jandy John, Director of Business Development at Wyth Trust explains, assisting aging parents comes with a lot of extra responsibility for those in the ‘sandwich generation.’ <link to sandwich generation article>

“In your 40s, you might have young kids, you’re working long hours and your day is probably hectic. How do you manage all of that? Aside from your regular stresses, you might now need to make sure that the care is there and provided for mom or dad,” she says. That’s where having a caregiving plan in place can ease a lot of worries.

If you haven’t already had a conversation with extended family members to discuss your parents’ care, set up a call or meeting now, and make a plan for who will be able to take on the responsibility. You may be able to split certain duties, coming together to support your parents in various ways.

Where do your aging parents wish to live?

As many as four in ten Canadians hope to stay in their own homes as long as possible, even if they can no longer live independently. On the flip side, only 21% prefer to move into an assisted-living facility and 11% plan to move in with family.

As Jandy explains, there are some important questions to bring up when it comes to housing. “Do your parents plan to move in with you? Stay in their own home? Maybe they’re hoping to move into a retirement community with other seniors? You’ll want to find out their wishes,” she recommends.

Sit down with your parents to discuss their plans for the future, taking into account their wishes and anticipated care needs, as well as your thoughts. “This will help you ensure everyone is on the same page—and allow all family members to prepare emotionally for any upcoming changes in living situation,” Jandy says.

Bring in trusted advisors

“It may be worth enlisting professional partners such as your trust company or advisor to take care of administrative responsibilities,” says Danny Zich, Estate and Trust Specialist with Wyth Trust. “For many people, this can leave you with more time to focus on the emotional side of managing your parents’ care.”

For example, it’s important for your parents to speak with their legal counsel to discuss whether now is the time to consider implementing a power of attorney. “Family members named power of attorney can assign the role of ‘agent’ to their trust company, which may provide peace of mind, knowing you have extra support if the time comes to step into the role,” Danny explains.

What is a power of attorney? 

This is a legal document that gives someone else the right to make decisions on behalf of another person. 

“We can basically step into the shoes of that power of attorney and manage the financial affairs for your aging parent,” Danny mentions, noting that this can often take the emotional weight off a family’s shoulders. “This includes dealing with the assets or investments wherever they may be, selling property, filing income tax, and paying their bills,” he continues.

“You can come to us at the time that you have to employ a power of attorney, and we can customize the service you might need, depending on the situation,” Danny says.

For many families, this eliminates the concern that one adult sibling may need to take on much more responsibility than others. It can also eliminate being forced to make extremely difficult decisions and bear the emotional brunt of those, possibly during challenging times when parents age or pass away.

Ensure their will is up to date

In addition, if your parents haven’t reviewed their will in a few years—or don’t yet have one in place—it’s also time to have that conversation, with the help of your parents’ legal counsel, Jandy notes.

“Wills are very hard to talk about,” she says. “But it’s a conversation that’s worth having. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that everybody passes away and everybody will eventually have to distribute assets. Even if your parents don’t own property or what you would think of as the standard set of assets, there will be aspects of their estate that need attention,” Jandy continues.

Rather than learning about these things when it’s too late or having to make guesses about your parents’ wishes after they pass on, you can get those answers now. This can provide families comfort and assurance that the right decisions will be made in the future.

How Wyth Can Help

Wyth Trust is here to help you and your family navigate your estate and trust needs.

Need help with your family’s estate and trust planning? Email trust@wyth.ca to connect with Jandy John, Danny Zich and the rest of our Wyth Trust team.