The global population of people aged 65 and above is increasing due to healthier lifestyles and modern medical advancements. In the last ten years, the number of people 65 and above has risen by 38%, and it is predicted to reach 94.7 million by 2060. With the aging of our population, many Americans are focusing on taking care of their elderly parents. (1)
Having a conversation with aging parents about extended medical care can be a challenging task for many individuals. It involves a shift in roles, and emotions can often hinder meaningful information exchange and decision-making processes. To tackle this issue, it is crucial to have a strategy for structuring the conversation. The following are some key concepts that should be considered when discussing future care with parents.
Cover the Basics
To keep the conversation on track, having a checklist of the information you need to find out can be helpful. Here is a starting point:
- Primary physician
- Medications and supplements
- Allergies to medication
Knowing the location of medical and estate management paperwork is also essential. This paperwork may include the following:
- Medicare card
- Insurance information
- A durable power of attorney for healthcare2
- Will, living will, trusts, and other documents
If you can gather all the critical information, you may be able to save time and prevent future emotional discussions. Prepare with checklists and scripts but also be aware that this conversation may bring up strong emotions and unresolved issues. Transitioning from provider to dependent is challenging for any parent, so approach the conversation with kindness. But do your best to gather all the necessary information.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
You may need to have more conversations with your parent about their future healthcare needs. It's important to involve other siblings in these discussions as well. While one sibling may take the lead role, it's essential for everyone to express their feelings, situations, and needs honestly. This can be an ongoing dialogue.
Open communication about important matters sooner can increase the chance of having all the necessary information in a crisis. How will you know when a parent needs your help? Look for signs such as changes in weight, not taking medications, and less social interaction than usual. These suggest that additional care may be needed soon. Don't avoid talking about the need for care just because it makes you uneasy. Waiting could worsen the situation.
It's important to remember that both you and your parent may face challenges during this new phase of life, regardless of how your relationship has been. By showing love and respect to your parent and making an effort to communicate openly, you'll be better equipped to provide the help they need during this new phase of life.
As your financial advisor, I'm here to listen to and find solutions to your concerns. If you'd like to discuss caring for elderly parents in your financial blueprint, please don't hesitate to reach out
1. ACL.gov, November 2022
2. Note: Power of attorney laws can vary from state to state. An estate strategy that includes trusts may involve a complex web of tax rules and regulations. Consider working with a knowledgeable estate management professional before implementing such strategies.