As a young adult, Annette Uribe found herself in the role of primary caregiver as well as a primary decision-maker. When Annette was 22, her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and then passed away. Her family’s lack of preparation for this unforeseen event made decisions about her mother’s care difficult.
Ten years later, when Annette’s father, Arturo, was diagnosed with ALS, she and her family were better prepared for the situation.
“My father received amazing care and support from the Golden West Chapter and the South Bay Kaiser Permanente ALS Clinic, “ Annette said. “In gratitude and in honor of my father, our family and friends have participated in the Walk to Defeat ALS, and we look for opportunities to support the organization that provides such vital help to the ALS community.”
The family had many conversations while Arturo could still communicate, so that they were clear about his wishes, both for his care, and his legacy.
“It is necessary to get help and resources early on in the disease progression. ALS looks different for everyone and being prepared from the get-go is crucial. The Golden West Chapter is a great place to find answers for the care of your loved one.”
Motivated by her personal experience as a family caregiver, Annette became a financial professional so that she could help guide individuals and families to prepare for life events, including difficult medical and healthcare situations. In her experience, these life events can be less challenging when one makes a financial plan.
The most important things everyone can do immediately after an ALS diagnosis are:
- Make Connections: Register for services with the Golden West Chapter, and develop a strong relationship with your Care Manager, Community Outreach Partner and members of your Clinic team.
- Increase Communication: Start having conversations about finances and legacy wishes. It is also very important to plan for how to cover medical and caregiver expenses, and to consider every option. And although it is typically not easy to talk about end of life issues and final wishes, these conversations can provide valuable guidance and comfort for family members.
- Take Action: Gather and keep all legal and important documents together in a known location. Make sure that beneficiaries associated with all accounts are up-to-date. If you haven’t already done so, set up your Power of Attorney and your Health Care Directive. Consult with an advisor to create or update your Will or Trust, to compile retirement accounts, and to review your plans.
In support of the ALS community and to commemorate National Financial Literacy Month, Annette was eager to share these valuable tips related to financial and estate planning, based on her direct experiences as a family caregiver.
“Having had both my parents pass from terminal diseases, I know first hand the heartache and pain a diagnosis can bring to a family,” Annette shared. “I now feel compelled to help others in similar situations.”
“And if you are a caregiver, you must remember to take care of your own well being. Sometimes we forget to take the time needed for our own physical and mental wellness. It is not selfish to take time to re-energize and take care of your personal needs. In order to be a good caregiver, you must be in a good state of mind yourself.”