How To Approach Important Questions For Your Aging Parents
Beginning conversations with aging parents about their future well-being can be difficult. These talks concerning memorial wishes, living situations, health, and finances are often avoided as they can bring up feelings of fear or loss. However, it is critical that children with elderly parents initiate these discussions so they can act on their parents’ behalf and execute their wishes as closely as possible.
Here are some ways you can approach key questions for aging parents so you are better prepared for a time when they may become more dependent on you.
- Be direct. If your parents tend to appreciate being straightforward, just ask. Express your concerns and desires for them to be comfortable with decisions for their future. Explain what you need to know in order to best carry out their wishes and address potential situations.
- Be intentional. Share your concerns and plan a specific date and time to discuss your concerns with your parents. If you are uncomfortable or unsure of how to mediate the conversation, consider using a third party, such as a family friend or lawyer, to guide the discussion.
- Be curious. One way to break the ice is to ask your aging parents for advice about your own long-term planning. Beginning the conversation with this approach will encourage your parents to think about financial, health, and legal issues. It opens the door for you to ask the key questions in a non-threatening manner or for your parents to share personal information on their own terms.
- Be concerned. Perhaps you know of another family who has helped care for elderly parents. Share how seeing others approach caregiving situations made you realize the importance of discussing their needs and wishes and developing a plan of execution.
- Be aware. Look for opportunities to bring up key issues in casual conversation. For instance, if your mother mentions an upcoming medical appointment, ask her about the doctors she’s seeing or the medications she’s taking. Aging is an integral and inevitable part of life. Be prepared to discuss important matters with your parents when the opportunity arises.
What Questions Should You Ask?
- What doctors are you currently seeing? What medications are you currently taking?
If your parents are hospitalized, knowing the doctors they are seeing and medications they are taking is essential. Additionally, it is valuable for the elderly to be informed by doctors of the normal aging process. Try to compile a list of your parents’ physicians and their contact information, as well as the medications they are currently taking.
- What kind of insurance do you have?
It is critical that you know your aging parents’ health insurance information should they need your care in the future. Also, find out if your parents have long-term care insurance, and if so, what it covers.
- Where would you consider living should you no longer be able to care for yourselves?
If your parents currently live in a home, see when and where they might consider moving. Condominiums, townhomes, and senior living facilities are all options for aging parents. It’s also helpful to ask where they would prefer to live should their spouse pass away.
- Would you like to be buried or cremated?
Additionally, ask your parents what kind of memorial service they envision for themselves. Are there any special readings or music they would like at the service?
- Do you have a will?
A will is the legal paperwork that determines who gets what should your parents pass. Another option is a living trust, which puts the responsibility of taking care of your parents’ assets in the hands of another in case of their death.
- Where can I find your important documents if I ever need them?
You need to know how to find and access medical records, insurance papers, and estate planning documents. If your parents have a safe box, make sure you know where it’s located, and how to open it with a code or key.
- Would you be willing to hire someone to help you at home should you need assistance?
There are many great options available for at-home senior care. Take care in choosing the best service for your parents. You can find an idea of things to consider here.
- Have you consulted a financial planner?
If your parents are seeing a financial planner, check that he or she is reputable and trustworthy. Be sure to know how to contact their planner in case of emergency.