Do you ever tell your kids to mind their own business when they ask about your financial affairs? Well stop, and think ahead.
September is Dementia Awareness Month, and parents are being encouraged to be more open about their situation with their children, to allow better planning and understanding when it comes to combating dementia.
Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australians, and in 2018, there is an estimated 425,416 Australians living with dementia and the numbers are expected to increase exponentially.
Nearly a third of Australians over the age of 85 and almost one in 10 over 65 are living with dementia, while it became the leading cause of death in among women in 2016.
Despite these rising figures not enough Australians are taking adequate steps to plan for the impact of Dementia and this is where the kids come in, according to Boutique Advisers Aged Care Expert, Brenda Will.
“If the kids don’t know what money their parents have and where, and the parent has dementia, it can be quite difficult to work out what their situation and options are, what they can afford and then act when help is needed,” Ms Will explained.
“Often houses can be disorganised and if parents don’t speak openly with their kids and keep their finances private, you’re in a situation where nobody knows what their financial position is, and it just adds to the burden.”
“It’s a tricky thing then finding information on all the various assets and other bits of information, and emotionally it is already very difficult.”
“It’s best to develop a plan and carefully consider having legal documents prepared when the parent has absolute clarity of mind and you know what you want done.”
Importantly, Ms Will is urging children to remain vigilant and aware of the signs their parents may be struggling to cope with the tasks of everyday life.
“If they’re only getting together as a family a couple of times a year, parents can put on their happy face,” Ms Will explains.
“You may not pick up on the signs that someone is starting to struggle with dementia. You could see them the next day, and the situation could be very different.”
Will says families should ensure they take basic steps so that they are organised, should a sudden need to enter a family member into aged care or provide a home care service, due to dementia, arise.
Appropriate documents arranged: Older Australians must carefully consider getting an Enduring Power of Attorney established whilst they can. They may find they are unable to legally execute such a document after Dementia has been diagnosed so it needs to be done early. The same applies to preparing Wills.
Planning for financial costs of care: Know the financial situation to ensure the affordability of care. Also consider the potential loss of income to those family members dropping out of work to provide care to the person with dementia, something that is almost always overlooked.
Find the right facility: There are dementia specific facilities with specially trained staff and security. Important to find the right facility that offers a safe environment and meets needs. Rise in dementia is seeing more competition for places, so planning is essential.
Make Informed Decisions: There are a number of care options. This can be in the form of home care, day care, respite (or some combination of these) or residential care. Information and education to better understand dementia is essential so families can better understand what to expect and how best to deal with and support their changing parent.
Strong Family Support: the need for care can arise urgently, you’re dealing with emotions, finances, issues finding a facility. Important for family members to get ongoing support themselves whether that be through friends, family, organizations or carer support groups.
“It’s about keeping an eye on parents, checking in on them more regularly and being a bit nosier into their finances and how they’re managing. Don’t assume because the house is still there, that they’re ok.”
Seeing a loved one gripped by Dementia can have an incredible toll on the entire family group, which is why Ms Will is imploring families to plan early, to ease the burden.
“It can be a massive challenge for families,” Ms Will said.
“You have this parent who has been this pillar of authority, control and responsibility and to see critical things falling down and them not being able to deal with basic tasks, it can be hard to believe and quite devastating for children to deal with,” Ms Will said.
“But there are plenty of options out there and a lot of help available, acting sooner rather than later can make all the difference.”
For more information on Boutique Advisors go here.
About Brenda Will – Brenda is an accredited Aged Care specialist adviser, Certified Financial Planner, hold a Diploma and Advanced Diploma in Financial Services as well as a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine & Surgery (Hons).