You need to know if your loved one
- can afford to cover their health expenses now (doctors visits, prescriptions, insurance, home care, assisted living);
- can afford to cover their health expenses in the future, especially if their needs were to change suddenly. Medicare will never cover all long-term care needs and will only pay for a limited stay in an approved skilled nursing facility (nursing home) if they meet certain health criteria.
- has legally named someone who can make financial decisions on their behalf (power of attorney).
As long as your loved one is capable, they should manage their own affairs. But it is important to open the discussion about finances early, so you know whether your loved one is prepared in case an emergency happens. You can help them budget now and plan for the future.
If your loved one has limited income, they may be eligible for programs that can help reduce their costs.
You should also talk to your loved one about creating a power of attorney document. This legal document will allow them to appoint someone they trust to make property, financial, and other legal decisions on their behalf (an agent). The agent may play a critical role in their health care, as they can pay for medical treatments and collect Medicare payments. The agent can also make sure that your loved one’s savings and assets are protected.