Back in 2017 & 2018 TGIF 2 Minutes explored “Caring For Aging Parents”. The topic and its challenges will always be timely. And there is another angle to the issue that can be equally as gut-wrenching: caring for – or caring about – an aging friend or neighbor who has little or no family available and no apparent plan for aging.
There are manifold reasons why this second situation can be so gut-wrenching:
- Friends are not family, but we can care about friends just as much or more.
- The families of our aging friends may be entirely absent from the situation.
- We often have no legal means for assisting aging friends or making desperately needed decisions for them.
- People tend to share information more readily with friends than they do with their own family – and when we come to possess knowledge about an aging friend it can cause worry and concern for us.
- Often there is not family anywhere near by, alive, or able to assist the aging person.
- …And the reasons go on.
So, what is a friend to do?
First and foremost, be a good friend to YOURSELF and do not let this situation become YOU someday! Develop a plan today for your “aging future self”.
- At the point – no matter how young – when you accumulate a certain amount of assets, purchase a home, get married, have a child, start a business or become otherwise “responsible” at a certain level (please ask me for clarification), it is time to establish several basic documents.
- These documents include a Will with beneficiaries, Advanced Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney. These are the absolute basics.
- Most of these documents can be done by a professional for a modest cost; more complicated versions of these documents can justifiably cost more.
- Next comes insurance planning and various protections.
- Basic Estate planning is critical and can also involve creating a Living Trust which is a way to protect assets and create privacy.
NOT being a good friend to yourself earlier in life – and not performing proper, basic planning as mentioned above – can be disastrous later in life for friends, neighbors, and even available family.
Friends and neighbors can undergo immense stress in wondering what will become of their aging friends who have no available family and seemingly no plan in place. State and government programs can possibly be the “ultimate safety net” but are certainly not ideal.
Be a good friend to yourself, your friends and to anyone willing to listen to these instructions. Although the planning process for aging can involve super-tough decisions, the all-around relief for you and others will far outweigh the difficult decisions.