After a lifetime of good health, has your aging parent just been hit with the news of having cancer? There is nothing more earth shattering for a family than to learn a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, especially an aging parent. Now that you have heard the news, are there questions running through your head? How much time do we have? What do we need to do? Is there a cure in sight? What health care needs will my aging parent have now? What can I do to help? Do they need a second opinion? These are just the start of the list of questions you need answers to that may be going through your mind right now.

As experienced Florida estate planning attorneys, we know just how concerning a cancer diagnosis is. The time is now to not only think about your aging parent’s health care needs but also to think proactively about your aging parent’s future. You will want to ask questions to determine:

  • Does your aging parent have an estate plan in place?
  • Is it current to reflect your aging parent’s wishes?
  • Does your aging parent have advanced directives in place such as a durable power of attorney?
  • Who does your aging parent want to make financial decisions if he or she cannot?
  • Who does your aging parent want to make health care decisions if he or she cannot?
  • Who is the backup decision maker?
  • Does your aging parent want life sustaining measures taken? 

At this time a bigger question will come up, especially with an aging parent, about whether or not your aging parent will be able to care for himself or herself. You may be concerned and have serious questions related to how to find and pay for necessary care, now and in the future as the healthcare needs of your aging parent changes. Be aware that healthcare support can come in all forms for your aging parent. For example you should consider options in the community such as:

  • Meal delivery programs
  • Transportation assistance to go to doctor appointments and treatments
  • Hiring a housekeeper
  • Medication management assistance and prescription delivery
  • In home assistance programs

Finding care for your aging parent can be a journey of heavy responsibility, and one you may not be able to complete without help when you work full time and have a family of your own. The health of your aging parent may also decline to the point where he or she cannot live alone or need to be in a safe environment such as an assisted living facility or nursing home. While the first step is identifying the care they need, the next step is to find the funds to pay for it. 

Have you ever had a conversation about whether your aging parent has the ability to pay for the care he or she may need in the future? With a cancer diagnosis, Medicare and Medicaid may provide some financial assistance. Medicare and Medicaid are different programs and can help in different ways. Medicare is the health insurance program for adults over age 65. Many of the available Medicare plans pay up to 80% of the costs of all of the doctor’s visits and diagnostic tests that come prior to a cancer diagnosis, until the health insurance deductible is met. Medicare may then cover the remaining costs for the pre-diagnosis visits. This can make Medicare very useful for patients with cancer until long-term care is necessary. Unfortunately, Medicare has a limited nursing home benefit, paying only for 100 days of care.
If you find that your aging parent will need custodial care, then Medicaid may be able to help. This will depend on your aging parent’s income and assets. A Florida elder law attorney can help walk you through the process of obtaining Medicaid services for your loved one and help you through this challenging time. We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. At David H. Jacoby Elder Law Advocate, P. A., we are focused on providing thorough, ethical, and timely solutions for our clients and their loved ones. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.