How to Have “The Conversation” with Your Aging Parents
It is never too soon to begin talking with your parents about aging. For some families this may be an uncomfortable discussion, and though it is difficult, it is an extremely important conservation to have to maintain their comfort, quality of life and independence.
Before you approach your parents, it is important to remember that the conversation will be about them. It is their plan, not yours. You need to talk with your parents and find out what they have or do not have in place, what ideas they have and what their wishes are. Be prepared to ask a lot of questions and actively listen. Be respectful even if you may not agree with that they have to say or what their wishes may be.
So, how do you break the ice?
You can start with the obvious one and tell your parents you would like to speak with them about their wishes surrounding aging and if they are open to discussing their plans. Another route: begin asking questions about their past, their childhood and their parents. Then, bring it to the present and discuss their goals and wants for the future and what their worries are.
Share your personal experience about your own planning and then ask them how they are planning ahead and if they are fully prepared. Share news articles and information about long-term care planning and information you believe may help them in the planning process.
If you are still having trouble approaching the topic, try writing a letter. A letter allows you to think through what you have to say and edit it along the way. It will also allow your parents to think about their plans before you sit down face-to-face.
When you are sitting down with your parents be sure to ask questions on the following topics: Desired lifestyle, legal and financial concerns, preferred medical care and long-term care costs. You will want to know what their expectations are, what they do not want to happen and if they need help caring for themselves or are unsafe to live at home, where would they choose to live? If there already have legal documents in place check to make sure they are properly updated. If nothing is in place contact an elder law and estate planning firm to begin the process.
If you are ever named to serve as a Health Care Agent, it would be extremely useful to have a discussion on what their desired medical wishes are, and what care options they prefer. Make sure you understand what your parents want if you ever have the legal power to act as their decision maker.
Weatherby & Associates, PC provides our clients with a How-To guide to begin the conversation. It is also available for download below this article. For more information on this topic please call the office at 860-769-6938 to schedule your first consultation