Elder Care Discussions
Article written by Scott M Kahan in Hamlet Living - June 2022 Magazine
Some of the most challenging things people deal with is helping their aging loved ones. Emotions involved with caring for the elderly can seem almost as overwhelming as the finances. As your loved one ages, what topics must you be ready to discuss? Beyond money, you need to talk about independence and basic preferences for the way individuals want to live or die.
IDEAS TO GET THE CONVERSATION GOING:
- Start with the most important priorities: Jumping into money issues first is usually a mistake. Instead, consider dealing initially with immediate health and lifestyle issues. Maybe this first conversation isn’t just about finding such documents as your loved ones’ will or health-care proxy (in case they become unable to make medical decisions), though you must eventually get to those. This conversation often begins with how you suddenly notice that your parent or other loved one moves slower, forgets more, or clearly looks worse.
- Prepare questions in advance: You need some basic information: the location of important papers, how household expenses are paid, and contact information for doctors, attorneys, and other financial advisors. Find out about medicines and whether your loved ones have a will and other needed estate planning documents. Your family’s circumstances may necessitate dozens more questions. When creating this list, ask yourself well beforehand about everything you need to know if your loved one suddenly becomes sick or dies.
- Be patient: In some families, a successful financial discussion comes only after several attempts and some frustration. Try not to become angry. Just keep starting the conversation until it catches on.
- Plan a caregiving strategy together: Discuss your loved one’s preferences and trigger points for the various stages of care.
- Recognize everyone’s limits: Most people almost always want to stay for as long as possible at home. Still, it would help if you candidly addressed precisely how much you can manage at home as a caregiver and whether you might all need various services (such as a home aide, geriatric-care manager, or an assisted living residence) during the different stages of aging to come.
- Make sure everyone knows the plan: Dealing with these issues well in advance will give all family members time to plan a strategy. Once you settle on a strategy, make sure all family and friends understand both the plan and their assignments. These conversations can take time, energy, and love. But having them while your loved ones are still healthy usually eases the burden for everyone if and when the moment comes for long-term care.