How to ‘talk’ to your elderly parents
For those with aging parents, November has special significance as National Family Caregivers Month. It reminds us that millions of family caregivers perform the majority of the care for our elderly and disabled loved ones. And family care is on the rise.
As the US population ages, the next generation will increasingly be faced with the task of discovering their parents’ caring preferences. “Role reversal,” or the idea of caring for someone who used to take care of you, can be uncomfortable, sensitive, threatening, emotional — but necessary. The sooner you chat, the better because having to guess or scramble when there’s a health emergency isn’t good for anyone.
In just a short decade, most of the huge population of baby boomers will be over 70 years old while their children are still in the prime of their careers and busy raising families. family.
Families can be more geographically dispersed, even more complex. All of this, combined with a shortage of healthcare providers, puts more pressure on families to prepare and proactively plan their parental care. The first step is to “talk” to better understand your parent’s care preferences.
Usually, family relationship conversations like this fall into two camps, welcoming or unwelcoming. Some elderly parents may appreciate a face-to-face conversation, while others may delay and prefer privacy. Such was the case with my father, now 93 years old. He had always believed that he would die in bed, on the family farm, and that planning anything different was pointless and completely unnecessary.
Perspective and background
Research tells us that as we age, seniors tend to be concerned with issues of control and legacy. Understanding how these two forces played a role in your parents’ lives will provide useful context when having these conversations. These problems often stem from parental resistance to helping or transitioning.
Control becomes increasingly a concern as parents begin to decline in physical and mental capacities, which can be the first threat to a child’s independence. Loss of control is a confusing topic. The increased mortality rate due to the loss of loved ones brings a leading legacy for the elderly. According to David Solie, author ofHow to say it to Seniors, “dealing with one’s legacy is enormous work, and has a powerful impact on one’s actions, whether they realize it or not.” Helping your parents share their legacy can make those later years more rewarding.
There are many things to consider when helping parents plan their care and stay independent for as long as possible. Some common topics include housing, finance, healthcare, transportation, home modification, home care, personal care, shopping, meals, and even caring for a co-worker onion. The good news is that there are plenty of resources available to help address most of these needs, and we’ve seen these services become more popular during the pandemic.
Most elderly people have a preference for “aging in place” as long as possible. In fact, according to a recent survey by AARP, 3 out of 4 adults aged 50 and over want to live in their home as they age. While this is understandable, very few people achieve this goal without some housing conversion. According to the National Council on Aging, older people tend to move more after age 65 than in previous years combined. We have seen this with my 92-year-old mother-in-law, who has moved five times in the last 15 years. These transitions are difficult and often involve some degree of dimensionality and loss of control.
Read: 90% of adults say they want to age – what it really means
Successful in situ aging may be the most cost-effective housing solution, but not only does it happen, it requires a plan to develop over time. For some, that will involve downsizing to be the ideal retirement home, ideally with progressive respite care options. Cognitive decline also becomes an increased risk with age and will likely lead to costly care and more limited housing options. For others, safety, including family accessibility modifications, will be a priority. Helping parents see the value of helping with home maintenance and care, such as lawn service and house cleaning, is helpful.
As parents get older, they will likely need more help. Help with shopping, doctor’s appointments, meals, driving, and finances are often next. For many people, there comes a time when there are larger care needs that require heavier lifting capacity. According to the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, 75% of people 85 years of age and older say they have some degree of permanent limitation in performing activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, or dressing. .
Many couples don’t care about the period when one of them stays single after losing his or her partner. This can lead to housing changes and additional care needs. For some, this is an opportunity to move back to their home, live with a sibling, get closer to family, or move into a new community.
As part of the overall plan of care, it is important to ensure that the basic legacy plan is in place and current. This should include key documents such as a health care directive, power of attorney, and will, along with making sure the property is properly titled and appointing applicable beneficiaries. It is also important to learn more about the health care directive and to have a designated healthcare representative. Gift giving is often an important part of a meaningful legacy. Understanding their legacies beyond transferring assets will help your parents feel more connected to their legacy.
You may feel too pressured to discuss this with your parents, thinking that you and other family members are looking at a stage where you will step in and take great care of. I like to think of a care plan and family members acting as care coordinators.
Most parents don’t want to be a burden to their children, so help them understand that they have a plan, a range of care and financial options that really matter – you can even say a valuable gift.
Angie O’Leary, head of wealth planning at RBC Wealth Management-US.
RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, NYSE/FINRA/SIPC Member.
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-to-have-the-talk-with-your-aging-parents-11637347593?rss=1&siteid=rss How to ‘talk’ to your elderly parents