Helping Our Parents From Afar | WYPR

Helping Our Parents From Afar

Jun 1, 2020

With the current pandemic that has upended many of our lives, it is imperative that we care for the most vulnerable people around us. For many of us, that may be our older parents. Catherine Collinson, president of nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, is here to help us with ways we can better prepare our parents.  

  

Catherine, many of us no longer live near our parents and we’re used to visiting them from time to time. With all of the travel-related issues associated with the pandemic, what are some ways we can help our parents from afar?

Catherine Collinson:

First, the most important thing we should be doing is more frequently checking in on them. Many of us are now more physically isolated from them, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep in contact.

Al Waller:

That is important Catherine. As most of us are now socially distancing in our own homes, it is important to check-in with all our loved ones. When checking in, what are important topics we should discuss?

Catherine Collinson:

Although this may be an uncomfortable topic for some, given the pandemic and economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever to have conversations about their financial situation and related-risks. Our 2018 report on retirees found that 46 percent of retirees never have discussions about their retirement savings, investments, and financial situation with family and close friends.

Al Waller:

When discussing our older parent’s finances, are their certain areas we should check into?

Catherine Collinson:

Find out whether they have put in place essential legal documents, so that if anything happens to them, a legally designated family member or representative can act on their behalf.

Al Waller:

What are some of the documents that they should have in place?

Catherine Collinson:

There are a number of different documents, but I only have time to mention three.

First, a power of attorney will allow their designated individual to have access to their financial accounts and pay their bills in the event they are unable to do so themselves. 

Second, a health care proxy will allow your parents to choose who will make medical decisions on their behalf.

Lastly, consider an advance health care directive, also known as a living will, which sets forth personal choices about end-of-life medical treatment in the event they become unable to communicate their decisions.

Al Waller:

Wow. These documents are very important to have and I feel often people forget how important they can be. Ok Catherine, what else can we do to help our parents?

Catherine Collinson:

It’s extremely disheartening that financial scams are on the rise amid the pandemic. All of us are vulnerable, but older people tend to be even more vulnerable. Stay abreast of the various scams ranging from bad actors fishing for personally identifiable information to purporting fake cures to COVID-19. Have conversations with your parents about the risk of being scammed, so they can recognize them when they are receive that suspicious text, email, phone call, or mail.

Al Waller:

Thanks, as always, for the great information about how we can help prepare our older parents.  I hope everyone is staying safe at home and remember to check-in with your loved ones regularly.

That’s all we have time for here on ClearPath – Your Roadmap to Health and Wealth on WYPR, your NPR news station.