TALKING TO LOVED ONES ABOUT THEIR CARE NEEDS
We recommend a few simple ways to get on top of aging parents’ care and prepare for the future. While this type of conversation can be challenging, these few items will help everyone to have a sense of control, preparedness, transparency and comfort.
1. Housing and In-Home Support
We recommend having an open conversation with your loved one about their future living arrangements. Try not to judge or respond, and instead ask open-ended questions about how they envision living in a year or in the next several years. Do they want to remain in their home or find a more supportive and communal living environment? If your loved one wants to stay at home, there are certainly ways to make sure they are safe in the home (i.e. an in-home aide, home modifications, etc…).
Find out what type of health insurance your loved one(s) has (i.e. Medicare). Try to track down a copy of their insurance cards and store them in a safe and secure place, just in case you need to call doctors, pharmacies, etc.
It’s not an easy conversation, but it is super important to understand your loved one’s monthly expenses, income, and savings, which are critical for evaluating long term care options. For example, depending on finances and medical needs, there are financial aid options (i.e. Medicaid) which can cover the cost of in-home support. In asking questions about finances, approach the conversation explaining you don’t mean to pry and you’re not asking for personal gain, instead you want to make sure your loved has what they need in terms of care, support, food, socialization, etc.
Who has the authorization to speak on your loved one’s behalf? What are your loved one’s end-of-life wishes (i.e. resuscitate, intubate, etc…). Power of Attorney, Healthcare Proxy, Living Will, and other similar legal documents are important because it may become more difficult, especially in the case of Dementia or Alzheimer’s, to advocate for your loved one and to ask questions in time of need without these. Again, this isn’t an easy discussion but reassure them you would feel comfortable knowing their wishes and being able to help when needed.
We know it’s hard, but when you’re together with family members, try to open up the conversation and lines of communication so your loved one feels comfortable sharing their wishes.