Mar 14, 2023

How do I help my senior parents start long term care and disability planning?

Manny Cominsky

While long term care planning might not be anybody’s favorite topic of conversation, seniors and their loved ones can never start soon enough when it comes to long term care and disability planning. It’s a good idea to start early when doing long term care or disability planning for several reasons. It’s never ideal to make a decision about something as important as your senior loved one’s home and healthcare in a moment of panic (such as when a family must decide the best course of action after a senior suffers a fall and can no longer live independently). Therefore, it’s best to take the time to talk to your senior loved one and plan ahead for their long term or disability care long before you need to. By making the decision when you want to do so as a family, as opposed to when you’re forced to do so by circumstances, you can make sure that your senior loved one’s long term care and disability care proceed according to your senior loved one’s wishes. Follow our guide below to learn more about how best to start planning for your senior loved one’s long term care and disability care as a family.

 Make a Long Term Care Plan

As with most things in life, the best way to start long term care and disability planning as a family is to start by making a plan. Start by thinking about how you want to discuss the care, as well as what sort of plans you hope to have in place when you’re done with your planning session (for example, resolve as a family to make sure that at the very least you and your family contact an estate planning attorney when you’re done planning).

It's important to start long term care and disability planning early, to ensure you senior loved one's care decisions are made according to their wishes and preferences.

A particularly important thing to discuss as a family is how you are going to approach your senior loved one about long term care and disability planning. Planning for your long term care can sometimes be an uncomfortable conversation, particularly for seniors who feel that such plans may cut off their independence. So it’s important to make sure that you come to the conversation from an empathetic and loving place. Make sure to emphasize that these decisions don’t limit their independence, and in fact enhance your senior loved one’s independence by making sure that they are in control of their future care decisions. 

Consider Power of Attorney

Another important point to consider at the beginning of the long term care and disability planning process is whether it is appropriate for your senior parents to sign a power of attorney document. As we’ve covered elsewhere on the blog, power of attorney is a legal concept where one individual (the principal, usually your senior loved one) allows another individual (the agent, often a family member or close friend of your senior loved one) to accomplish something on their behalf. Power of attorney can be used for something as simple and discrete as helping your senior loved one sell a piece of real estate (such as their home), or can be used for more complicated and open-ended tasks like making their medical and healthcare decisions on their behalf. Also keep in mind that a power of attorney can be “springing”, meaning that it only comes into effect if a predetermined event occurs (such as your senior loved one having a medical emergency). 

Because each state has its own power of attorney laws, make sure to speak to a local elder law attorney if you think a power of attorney might be right for you and your senior loved one. A local elder law attorney will be able to help advise you on how to properly set up the power of attorney document, as well as strategies for best protecting you and your senior loved one’s interests.

Organize Your Senior Loved One’s Documents

Once you and your senior loved one have made a plan, it’s time to start getting organized. Before you can start to do things like make a long term care budget for your senior loved one, it’s important to know basic facts like their sources of income, their most important care and service providers, and all their financial obligations. To do so, go over your senior loved one’s mail and bank statements, and organize all the important account information in a binder or notebook. Also make sure to ask your senior loved one who their doctor, accountant, or lawyers are (or any other similar professional service provider).

Make sure to start by organizing all of your senior loved one's important bills, accounts and professional service providers.

Another helpful tip is to use your senior loved one’s tax returns as a way to cross-reference the materials you have and make sure that you have all major sources of income accounted for. Similarly, review your senior loved one’s checking account in order to confirm all your senior loved one’s monthly payments and sources of funds.

Make a Monthly Budget

Once you have a good handle on all of your senior loved one’s important documents, accounts, and service providers, it’s time to start thinking about what their budget can comfortably be for long term care, and what that budget can afford. Long term care and disability care can be quite expensive, and so it’s important to think about how your senior loved one will pay for their care each month. We always suggest speaking with an elder law attorney or other senior care professional, such as an accountant or wealth manager with experience helping elderly or senior clients, to understand how long term care or disability care will affect your senior loved one’s monthly cash flow, and what methods are available to extend your senior loved one’s savings as far as possible. 

Of course, another solution is to use Sunbound to pay your senior loved one’s monthly care each month, taking advantage of Sunbound’s flexible payment and budgeting options. Sunbound allows you and your family to pay for senior care on your schedule throughout the month, in as many installments and from as many financial accounts as you and your family want.

Consider a Senior Living Community

While long term and disability care do not necessarily have to occur in a senior living community, for example many seniors receive long term care at home from a variety of sources including at-home caregivers, it’s also important to consider whether a senior living community may be appropriate for your senior loved one. Senior living communities provide important wellness benefits for their senior residents. Along with providing round-the-clock access to professional caregivers, senior living communities also provide residents with important opportunities to socialize with other residents (which has proven wellness benefits).

The social interaction provided by senior living communities can have important wellness benefits for senior living residents.

There are several types of senior living communities, each offering different levels of care and amenities for their residents, generally depending on the acuity level of the residents in the community. Some popular types of senior living communities include:   

Independent Living

Independent living communities are generally designed for older adults and seniors who do not require any daily care. While many independent living communities will provide daily services and amenities like housekeeping or laundry, independent living communities are largely designed for seniors who can, and want, to live independently and without daily care. Because of this, independent living communities are often focused on providing lifestyle-amenities to residents, and less focused on providing care.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is for seniors who require some amount of daily care, but often stopping short of true medical care. Assisted living communities offer access to daily care services, such as assistance dressing, using the toilet, or eating meals. In addition to providing social activities and amenities, assisted living communities also provide access to care-based services like medication monitoring, 24-hour emergency care, and other medical services.

Memory Care

For individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive impairments like advanced dementia, there are memory care facilities. Memory care facilities are staffed by trained medical professionals, and are designed to care for individuals with memory or other cognitive impairments. Memory care facilities provide a higher level of care than assisted living communities, and are designed for residents who cannot live safely on their own.

To learn more about how Sunbound can help make paying for senior living and senior care more affordable for you or your senior loved one, send us an email at or request more information on Sunbound. Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living and senior care, and we’re on a mission to make senior living and senior care more affordable for everyone.

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