Don't wait until your family is grappling with a crisis to discuss these four important subjects. Candid conversations will help the decision-making process when the tough calls must be made.
The challenges facing seniors and their adult children can be placed into four main categories, according to the article "Talk to aging parents about finances, health care, living arrangements," appearing in The Ventura County Star. They are: finances, living arrangements, medical coverage and estate planning.
Understand your parents' ideas about their future living arrangements when and if they become unable to care for themselves. If they want to stay in their own home, familiarize yourself with the available community resources for support and research alternative living arrangements in the event that remaining at home is no longer a viable option.
Analyze the type of medical coverage your parents have and its coverage. Get the name and telephone number of their primary care physician and any specialist they are seeing. Have a sense of their medical history and condition.
Estate planning includes legal, financial, and end-of-life issues. See if your parents have an advance health care directive, a will and/or trust, and a general power of attorney for finances. Find out who has copies of these documents or where they're kept. Also, get the contact information for their estate planning attorney.
Talk to your parents about their financial resources, both income and assets—this is critical if you need to place them in a long-term care facility or apply for government programs. Also, find out if they have long-term care insurance and what it covers.
Last, the hardest conversation may be about their final needs. See if your parents have made funeral arrangements and have prepaid them. If they don't have these plans, encourage them to tell you what they want.
Your parents know they need to have these conversations. You can help by taking a proactive role and fostering these conversations while they are still able to participate and tell you what they want. If you have siblings, include them in these discussions as well.
Reference: Ventura County Star (February 9, 2016) "Talk to aging parents about finances, health care, living arrangements"