Face the Facts: Topics to Discuss Now with Your Aging Parents (Part 1 of 2)
As we age and live longer, financial, legal, health care and long term care issues affect families, not just individuals. This guide was created to help families “face the facts” about these important topics. This overview addresses some key areas of concern, suggested questions to ask, and ways in which families might initiate conversations about these often difficult to discuss topics with their aging parents.
Prepare yourself to be open, honest and not argumentative. Be ready to listen and hear what is being said to you. Have some knowledge about the topic you’re talking about.
If the care recipient is a ‘no-nonsense, get-to-the-point’ personality, openly express your concerns and ask questions for information you need to address specific situations that might arise.
For the relative who might need a delicate push, you might begin by sharing an experience of another caregiver you know about their own personal situation, and explain how it made you realize the importance of discussing issues now that will help you be of better assistance to them in the future.
For the relative who refuses to talk about personal issues or tends to accuse their children of trying to take control of their life, seek to make them the expert by asking for their advice about a particular issue — for example, “what type of long term care plan should I look into,” or “can you recommend someone to help me prepare my will.” This strategy is non-threatening and could lead to them sharing personal details, or at least letting you know where they stand on the subject
- Find out what financial benefits are provided by your parents’ Social Security and pension. Determine if they are eligible for other financial programs.
- Be certain each family member has a living will. Know where all your parents’ insurance policies, wills, trust documents, tax returns, investment and banking records are located.
- Understand that Medicare generally does not cover long term care (e.g. nursing home or extended home care), and Medicaid pays only for low-income individuals.
- Investigate what type of long term care insurance coverage may be best for your parents or for yourself! Generally, premiums are lower when policies are purchased at younger ages.
- Identify what community services are available that can help your parents maintain independence. Services like home modification are available to help reduce the risk of accidents and make daily household activities more comfortable to perform. Emergency Response Systems not only summon emergency help quickly, but can also increase the feeling of security within the home. Transportation services may be available to assist older adults who need help getting to appointments with their doctor. There are many community resources to help older persons by providing information or a needed service. Find out about these and other services available through your state, area agencies on aging, and local aging services providers.
Social Security Administration: www.ssa.gov; 1-800-772-1213
Medicare: www.medicare.gov; 1-800-Medicare
National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information: http://www.longtermcare.gov
American Bar Association – Commission on Law and Aging: www.abanet.org/aging
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