What You need to do

image21

START THE CONVERSATION

It is imperative that you start talking to your parent(s) about their thoughts on their future. It may be hard to start, but below are some topic areas and suggested points to bring up or questions that you can start with to get the conversation going. Remember to keep the conversation ongoing as wishes and needs change over time...

Do you know who their healthcare specialists are?

It is critical that you have as complete an understanding of what is going on with your parent(s) in terms of their health and well-being as this can help you plan for potential future needs down the road. 

  • Ask if you can attend a meeting with their healthcare provider?
  • Do they have any healthcare specialists?
  • Do you know who their pharmacist is?
  • Ask what kind of medications they are currently taking, and do they know what each medication is for?

Do you know if they still feel comfortable driving?

Many older people experience increased difficulty driving, especially at nighttime, as their vision deteriorates. Unfortunately, these concerns often go unaddressed and ignored. Clearly, before an accident occurs, driving ability must be assessed. 

  • Ask if they have any friends that have started to change / reduce their driving habits?
  • Ask if they feel comfortable driving at night?

Do you know their financial situation?

In order to help your parent plan for future needs, it is critical that you have a sense of their financial situation. For example, can they afford assisted living? Ultimately, financial circumstances, as well as availability of family / friend / neighbor support, will be important to know for planning and future decision-making. 

  • Ask if they have their financial papers in order?
  • Ask where they keep their financial information; and may you see this?

Do you know if they have an Estate Plan / Living Will?

Many older adults have not documented how their assets are to be distributed upon death (Estate Plan) or directives about the medical treatment they want if they are unconscious (Living Will). This is incredibly important to know before a crisis occurs as such documentation can prevent painful disputes among surviving family members.

  • Ask if they have an estate plan?
  • Ask if they have an executor?  Who is this?
  • Ask if they have a living will?  What does it consist of?

Do you know what their plans are for the future?

You need to start having a conversation about what they envision for the future, and ideally you need to start early while your parent is still functioning well, both physically and mentally. 

  • Do they want to stay living where they are currently?  Will this be feasible when they are more frail? 
  • What about when they can no longer drive?  Is there public transportation available?  If not, then what? 
  • Ask what they love to do, and what needs to be put into place so that they can continue to do these things that make their lives meaningful.