How to help your parents navigate health care in retirement | Health, Med. & Fitness

Many adults find themselves helping their aging parents sign up for Medicare, a complex process with many steps and considerations. There are penalties for delaying enrollment, and not everyone understands their options.

“You can’t go into it thinking it’s really easy,” says Melinda Caughill, co-founder of 65 Incorporated, which offers guidance on Medicare. “It is incredibly complicated, and the decisions your parents made, or will make, will affect you.”

Being proactive and getting as much information as possible can help. Try these tips to be the best advocate for your parents during this life transition.

If you have questions, start with someone who isn’t trying to sell you (or your parents) anything. “People should not make their first stop an insurance agent or an insurance company,” Caughill says. “Do they have your best interests at heart? To a point. But at the end of the day, they have to pay their bills just like everybody else.”

If you can afford it, a Medicare advisor or advocate is a helpful resource. (Try searching online for “fee for service Medicare advisors.”) Caughill suggests budgeting $500 to $1,000 for this kind of advice.

If that’s not an option, consider reaching out to your State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP. You can find yours at

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