Taking Care of Your Baby Boomer Parent

As the baby boomers age, there are many questions that they, and their children, are presented with. What, for instance, should you do if your elderly parents run out of money? These are questions that many experts, like Edward Beckwith from BakerHostetler and Richard Baum at Anchin, Block & Anchin try to answer.

Since life expectancies have gone up significantly at the same time that the economy has weakened, many people are finding themselves in a precarious situation in their golden years. According to a March 2012 data report from Wider Opportunities for Women, a nonprofit in Washington, 52% of people 65 and older who live alone don’t have the income they need for basic necessities, let alone health costs.

Discussing an annual gift is a good idea, as it allows you to give a set amount of money to your parents each year. Another way to help them, as Richard Baum of Anchin, Block & Anchin in New York explains, is to pay their medical bills. The tax law allows you to pay qualified medical and educational bills without any limits. As Baum from Anchin explains, you can make direct payments to the medical provider without any limits on how much you spend. And, according to Anchin Block, these payments don’t count toward your lifetime gift-tax exemption.

Mr. Baum explains that paying bills directly also keeps wealth out of your parents’ estates. As he said, “The idea is to make sure that child does not create a pool of wealth that would be taxed in the parents’ estate.”

It is important, notes Bradley Frigon, an elder-law attorney, to draft a “family settlement agreement” so that there is no expectation that the bill-player will want reimbursement from the parents’ assets.

Dealing With an Aging Population

It is the time of baby boomers throughout America, but in Kern County caretakers and physicians are looking to provide solutions to this problem.  A report from the area’s Aging and Adult Services Department has shown that the number of baby boomers is almost 178,000 across the nation. (Baby boomers are those aged 48 to 66).  As CAO of KMC Dr. Eric vanSonnenberg pointed out, “geriatrics is absolutely becoming a booming area.”  The problem is the healthcare workforce is just not equipped to deal with this, according to a report in 2008 from the Institute of Medicine.  Indeed, it found that there is only one geriatrician for every 2,500 seniors in America.   

What can be Done?

According to experts in the area from kern City, the way to deal with this is not by just training more doctors but for physicians across the board to “think differently and communicate more.” For example, if a patient comes in with various ailments including mental issues, the physician should be able to prescribe medications but it might end up too costly for the individual on a low (fixed) income.  Thus if there is a social worker on board, he/she can help with the financial issue and maybe find a generic pill that could reduce costs.

So basically, to improve the situation for the elderly, doctors and caretakers from different disciplines need to get together to discuss how best to proceed.