Many children find it difficult to have conversations about the future with their aging parents. It is often uncomfortable for all parties involved. Children may worry about how the conversation with their parents will be perceived. It can be tough to discuss the subject of money as children don’t want to be perceived as though they are prying or worse, greedy. Parents may feel as though the conversation is threatening their independence. The fact is, the conversation must take place at some point and the earlier families begin planning, the better off they can be when the plans must become action. Children must, in a loving way, clear away excuses and have “the talk”.
Starting “The Talk”
Before beginning the conversation, children should prepare themselves. Information is readily available at your fingertips. Many organizations have created worksheets or lists of questions to help adult children discuss future plans and needs with their parents. These can help you make a plan for the conversation and be a guide for topics that need to be addressed. Using these as help is a good idea, but be flexible and let the conversation be as natural as possible. Be sure, when having the conversation, to let your parents talk and to really listen to them. In fact, it can be more positive if your parents take the lead.
Discussing Legal and Financial Issues
Having “the talk” with your aging parents must include legal and financial issues. Many parents think that the legal side can be boiled down to whether or not to resuscitate and who can give them medicine, but there is much more to consider. There is legal paperwork that includes advance directives, wills, trust agreements, and powers of attorney. The financial side of things can be very tricky because families have to plan for future living and care. During the initial conversation, it may be a good time to ask an aging parent to gather all of their financial information and plan this discussion for the next meeting. The legal and financial part of the discussion can be overwhelming and confusing. It may be beneficial to tap into professional resources to help. An elder law attorney can help with a plan that covers legal and care-related issues. If you or your parents have a financial planner, it is wise to involve that professional as well.
Talking about Living Options
There are many options and things to consider when discussing future living options for aging parents. First, you must find out if your parents wish to stay in their home or move into an assisted living facility. You must also know if illness changes this preference for your parents. The next step is to do some homework and check costs. You may want to work together to check the costs of in-home aides, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and long-term care in your area. Families can even set up tours of facilities and the type of care and accommodations available in the facility. This will give families the information they need to continue the conversation and make a well-informed decision.
After the initial conversation, the adult children and their parents should have a plan for what the next steps will be. It is best to assign family members to tasks on the plan. This will help to get everyone involved. The family could also decide on times when they can meet with professionals or take tours. Most importantly, the family members should decide on a date for their next meeting and what things need to be done prior in order to make the time as productive and peaceful as possible.
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