5 Things You Need to Discuss With Your Aging Parents
5 Things You Need to Discuss With Your Aging Parents
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You may have started to notice some changes in your parents’ abilities as time goes on. Whether they seem more forgetful or are having more trouble moving around the house, changes in ability are inevitable as we age.
We all want the best for our parents and relatives. Sometimes this means having difficult conversations about aging, plans, needs, and lifestyle changes.
Though never easy, it is important to have these conversations before something life-altering occurs. This allows both you and your parents plenty of time to make decisions and plans everyone agrees upon without being rushed or stressed.
How to have difficult conversations with your aging parents
Starting a conversation with your parents about their aging needs and decisions can feel intimidating. Seniors can sometimes be reluctant to discuss matters related to aging for a number of reasons. Some worry about a loss of independence and autonomy, which can be upsetting. Others do not feel like they need help, or do not want to feel like a burden to their family. And some are simply unsure of what their next best step should be.
Therefore, it is important to meet your parents’ worries with empathy and patience. These conversations take time, which is why you should begin having them as early as possible. Start small, and provide plenty of reassurance that you are there to support them throughout the process.
Forbes Health suggests family members take an honest, empathetic approach to help their loved ones accept and eventually embrace the idea of living in a safe, supportive environment with other seniors.
Try to have these discussions in a place where your parents feel comfortable and relaxed. It is also helpful to have another close family member there, but be cautious of involving too many others – you do not want your parents to feel threatened or embarrassed.
Overall, offer a listening ear and be sure to emphasize the positives of the situation. Mention how relieving it will feel to get documents in place and important decisions made. Bring up the benefits of a senior living community if that is part of the discussion. Reassure them that you have their best interest at heart and want them to have more independence, safety, and a better quality of life.
And, give it time. The more you ease into these difficult conversations, the more your parents will feel open to having them.
Topics to discuss with your aging parents
The subject of aging can lead to many conversations with our loved ones. Below are 5 major topics you should discuss with your parents as they enter their later years of life. With each topic are example questions you can use as conversation starters that will keep the discussion productive and focused.
1. Healthcare needs
Health and medical care is an extremely important topic for people as they age. Between legal documents, healthcare delivery decisions and treatment preferences, there are many scenarios you should go over with your aging parents regarding their health. While it might seem unpleasant, it is best to be familiar with all this information before you need it. That way, your parents will receive future medical care based on their wishes.
Here are some questions to ask your aging parents about healthcare needs:
Do you have advance healthcare directives including a living will, health care proxy, do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders, and HIPPA release?
Do you have a durable power of attorney for medical decisions?
Do you have a list of all your doctors’ contact information?
Do you have a list of all your medications and pharmacy information?
Can a loved one accompany you to your medical appointments if needed?
Do you need any mobility aids such as a rollator, walker, cane, wheelchair, or power scooter?
Will any of your health conditions eventually require additional care?
What are your preferences about end-of-life care?
2. Living arrangements
Housing choices can be one of the more contentious topics for aging parents. It can be hard for seniors to accept that their needs and abilities may be changing. But, it is an important discussion that will affect your parents’ future happiness and well-being – especially before a crisis occurs.
Questions to ask your aging parents about their current and future living situations:
Would you consider downsizing to a more accessible home that is easier to manage?
Would you consider moving to be closer to friends or family members?
Would you consider moving somewhere with a warmer climate, like Florida?
In the future, would you prefer to stay home and age in place?
Are you willing to hire in-home care if you decide to age at home?
If you can no longer live at home, would you rather move in with a family member or move to a senior living community?
Could you benefit from no longer having the responsibility of maintaining a home?
What questions do you have about senior living communities?
3. Legal documents
Another major topic to discuss with your aging relatives is getting legal documents in place. Again, it is of the utmost importance to have these documents completed before they need to be used. This way, you can be sure all legal decisions are made based on your parents’ wishes. You may need to enlist the help of a professional elder law attorney to make sure all necessary paperwork is completed accurately.
Questions to ask your aging parents about financial and legal documents:
Do you have a durable power of attorney for financial decisions?
Where are all your important documents located?
4. Home safety
Home safety and accessibility is an important matter to discuss with aging relatives, especially because it affects their day-to-day well-being. Remind your parents that the safer their home is, the longer they can live there independently. It is always better to prevent future issues proactively than to be forced to react to them after they occur.
Questions to ask your aging parents about their safety at home:
Is your house accessible, especially if your physical abilities change? (Is it a single-level home? Are the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room accessible? Is it located near hospitals, doctors, or loved ones in case of emergency?)
Does the house need any safety modifications to prevent falls, such as ramps, grab bars, additional lighting, etc.?
Are you able to navigate through the house safely?
Will you wear a Life-Alert button in case of a fall?
5. Insurance and finances
While not always the most comfortable topic to discuss, knowing your parents’ financial situation is crucial when making decisions about health care and living arrangements. Meeting with a trusted financial planner is always helpful regarding financial matters. They can advise you on your financial decisions based on your income, assets, pensions, social security payments, veterans benefits, insurance, and more.
Some questions to ask your aging parents about financial matters and insurance are as follows:
Do you have a reliable financial planner who can advise you on financial decisions?