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Sunday, July 14, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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How-to guides for life: Getting started with elder care

Seattle Times staff reporter

Do we ever get over the realization that, contrary to what we believed when we were 3, our moms and dads are mortal? Here's what the experts advise: Recognize that your parents will likely need care some day. Get involved in elder-care planning while they're still able to make their own decisions: What do they need you to know? What do they need from you in a crisis? Do you know how to find the deed to their home or what pressing bills to pay if they are suddenly hospitalized? This information could help start what is one of the most difficult but important conversations parents and adult children can have. And remember that you will be there someday, too. This advice can help you plan for your own aging.

Indispensable documents:

Only about 30 percent of American adults have wills. If your parent is a Washington state resident, and he or she dies without a will, the estate automatically becomes the next-of-kin's inheritance.

Long-term care options:

Sadly, 85 percent of long-term care decisions are made after an older person has already reached a medical crisis. [More...]

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