6 Conversations You Need to Have with Your Aging Loved One Today
August 09 2021
The Tough Conversations You Need to Have to Protect Your Elderly Loved One
Everyone ages at a different pace, but the consequences are inevitable for us all. As a person grows older, they experience many physical, mental and emotional changes. These changes can not only affect their own well-being, but it can also affect those around them. This makes it critical that you have certain tough conversations with them while you still have the opportunity to. By the time their memory is failing or an accident happens it will be too late to have these important conversations.
1 Taking the keys away from your aging loved one can be a tough decision. However, if you have this conversation early enough, it doesn’t need to be an either-or proposition. Rather, a more effective approach is to have a conversation about limiting driving when done early enough. This can be limiting how far from home your loved one drives, asking them to drive during times with less traffic, and not driving grandchildren unless there is an emergency. When the time comes to take the keys away, your loved one will be ready to give them up.
2 You might not know the financial condition of your loved one and waiting until an incapacity or death to learn about their financial situation adds more stress. With the cost of living and healthcare increasing, many elderly Americans are falling below the poverty level. Memory issues could also lead to forgetting to pay bills, not to mention that many elderly fall prey to scammers that target them. Even if your loved one is reluctant to talk about their finances, it is an important conversation to have. Stress that you aren’t going to be critical of their decisions, but rather you want to help them and ensure they have what they need. Make sure you discuss their income and expenses, including any mortgages or loans they may have.
Health and Living Assistance
3 As we age, our bodies go through many physical changes that can pose many hazards to the well-being of your loved one. We lose bone and muscle mass, have a reduction in hearing and vision, as well as experience a slower metabolism and cognitive decline. One of the most important conversations is about health matters, especially assistance. The appropriate time to have a conversation about medical or living assistance is before they need it, not after. This ensures that they are able to have as much say in the matter as possible. When the time comes, your loved one will be more accepting of the help, rather than fighting it.
4 There are some legal documents that you need to make sure your loved one has lined up. Make sure they have a will or trust. Know who the executors of the estate are and where these documents are filed. It is also a good idea to ask them about a power of attorney for finances and healthcare. This document allows you to make decisions for your loved one when they are incapacitated. If you and your loved one agree that this document is needed, be sure to get it taken care of before it is needed in an emergency.
End of Life Instructions
5 It can be uncomfortable for people to talk about death; however, it is important that you learn about your loved one’s wishes. It is more than likely that your loved one has already made some plans, but there could be gaps due to lack of knowledge or something unintentionally getting overlooked. Some things you will want to discuss with your loved one include:
- Having a living will or DNR (“do not resuscitate”) instructions for emergencies
- Their wishes for hospice, or end-of-life care
- Funeral and burial arrangements
- Bequests of special legacy assets not distributed or special bequests in the will that go to specific people along with instructions and where copies are stored
- Any ongoing instructions, such as care for a pet or other dependent after they are deceased
- Any other particular wishes or instructions they might have
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
6 Lastly, the most important conversation you can have for you and your loved one is about resolving any old issues, hurts or misunderstandings. This doesn’t mean you have to reopen old wounds, have a fight or point fingers. This is about letting go and moving on. Remember, everyone makes mistakes and now is a time for forgiveness and allowing the past to be in the past. You don’t want to miss your opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation. In fact, having this conversation can strengthen and deepen your relationship and understanding of one another.
Having these conversations can be difficult, but they can also be rewarding. Not only can having this knowledge and these plans laid out protect your aging loved one, but it can also simplify the tasks you need to do to help them, allowing you to enjoy your time with your loved one more.