There is never a right time to talk to your parents and grandparents about their long-term care plans. With the holidays here, you may find yourself traveling to see those you love who live far away. This time together can provide the perfect opportunity to talk together about the future. As we age, many of us will need a bit more help. This help can take the form of paying bills, driving, and assistance with activities of daily living.
Starting a conversation focused on the uncertainty surrounding the aging process is never easy. Especially when you are talking to Older Americans who may have significant fears over the thought of leaving his or her home at some point in the future, the loss of a spouse, or isolation. Many seniors, even those you care about most, may express feelings of resentment and hostility over conversations that focus on their future.
Regardless of how uncomfortable the conversation may be at first, it is critical to have. When you and your parents or grandparents have a plan for how to handle the future, even the most complicated aging issues can become more manageable. Let us share with you the top seven tips we recommend to our clients, friends, advisors, and community that you can use to check-in and start the conversation.
Is their estate planning up-to-date? Many people who create estate planning documents think that once the documents are signed the planning is complete. Nothing is further from the truth. Circumstances change and plans need to be updated. Ask your loved one if their planning is up-to-date and reflects their current needs.
Who are their decision-makers? Knowing who the decision-makers are in times of health and in times of crisis is crucial. Ask now who the decision-makers are, as well as, who the back-up decision-makers are. Knowing who needs to make decisions in a crisis will be helpful should the time come.
Who is their attorney? Although it may seem an unusual question to ask, knowing who the attorney that your loved one works with is immensely helpful in a crisis. Their attorney should be able to guide you through unseen issues and be available to help in the future. Do not wait to ask your loved one the name of their attorney, address, phone number, and website.
What is the condition of the home? It is important to visit the home of your loved one and look around. Is your loved one aging well in their home? Is it easy for him or her to move around? Is he or she having a hard time with the stairs? What is the state of the food in the refrigerator? Looking at the physical environment can give you insight into your loved one’s current capabilities.
Do you have a list of doctors? In addition to asking who your love one’s attorney is, ask who is his or her primary care doctor. Also, ask if they are regularly seeing any specialists. These inquiries may lead you to discovering conditions you were not aware of. In addition, it is good to be prepared with phone numbers and contact information should you need them in the future.
Is there a current list of medicines? Take the time to ask about medication. Many seniors are taking a number of different medications. Having an up-to-date list is important for you and any future healthcare decision-maker, but it is also important for the Older American to have as well. An accurate list of medicines may not be something that their primary doctor or specialist is privy to right now. Ask your loved one to prepare this list and then take it with them to any doctor’s appointment.
Have they started to plan for the costs of long-term care? Talk to your parents and grandparents about their long-term care planning as soon as possible. Unfortunately, long-term care is expensive and most of the services are not covered by Medicare. Meet with an elder law attorney who understands the landscape and what your loved one needs both now and in the future.
This is just a start in regard to the discussion you can have with your loved ones during the holidays. Always try to speak from a place of compassion and empathy. Remember, this is a conversation that should take place throughout the year, not just during the holidays. If you need help or if this article raises more questions than it answers, do not wait to ask us your questions today.