Good morning, it’s Wade Scott with the Delaware Elder Law Center and this morning’s segment is on action steps that adult children will need to take based on changes they observe in a parents health.

Now, in an earlier segment I talked about changes to be on the lookout for in more detail, so please feel free to circle back to refresh your recollection.

Let’s focus on two changes that absolutely require immediate action. The first is a diagnosis of dementia, and that’s a major change and it needs to be dealt with. The second one is the establishment of a revolving door pattern, which involves a parent becoming acutely ill and needing to go to the hospital where they become stabilized, then discharged to a rehabilitation center for days, weeks, months, and then they return home often at a lower level quality of life. Then the pattern begins to establish itself, they’re back in the hospital, rehab, back home, months go by, they go back in the hospital and into rehab and that’s the revolving door.

When if you see either one of those conditions develop, the first thing that needs to be done is to get your parents estate plan in place. In an earlier segment, I went into detail about the options for estate planning. I’m not doing that here, but here’s the reason need to do that: if your parents become suddenly unable to make their own decisions, and their estate plan is not in place, then no one has legal authority to make financial and healthcare decisions for them. That means you’ll have to petition to become a guardian, which I talk about in another segment, but that is easily avoided by getting an estate plan in place. This focus is on the disability documents, the power of attorney, the advanced healthcare directive, and the HIPAA release, and you, as your parents’ agent, need authority to apply for government benefits and to protect assets in the process.  You need to have authority to have discussions with the doctor and assign certain types of medical orders on behalf of your parents if they can’t do it for themselves. You need the estate plan in order to be in that position.

Once the foundational estate plan is in place, you, as the adult child, will be in a position to take whatever steps are necessary to continue to take care of your parents. After the foundational estate plan is in place, the next set of action steps involve educating yourself about what care is available and what options there are to pay for it. There’s going to be a multitude of other video segments on those topics so I invite you to please circle back and continue your education. Thank You.