5 Key Conversations with Your Parents

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Are there conversations you’d like to have with your parents as they age, but you just don’t know how to start? Maybe you see changes that concern you, or you just want to get some peace of mind about the future. How do you bring up important topics such as driving, finances and independent living? Many find it difficult to approach their parents about sensitive matters. Here are some guidelines for making conversations easier.

Driving. This is one of the toughest issues to discuss. The car keys represent independence. Who wants to give that up and have to depend on others to get around? But if Dad or Mom has had an accident or a close call, it’s a matter of their and others’ safety. Can you live with yourself if your parent is angry with you if you take away the keys? Can you live with yourself if something terrible happens to parent?

What to do? Tell your parents what you’ve noticed: dents in the car, slower reaction time, going through a stop sign or red light. When did they last have their hearing or vision tested? Take them for a driving evaluation or test. Talk to their doctor about your concerns.

Elders are sometimes better able to hear a recommendation from a professional they know and trust. If the evidence indicates that it’s time to stop driving, express empathy and acknowledge the loss, but tell them you are concerned about their safety. Offer either to drive them or find them transportation to medical appointments, errands and activities in the community.

Finances. Do you know what your parents’ financial resources are? They may not have a totally clear idea themselves or have chosen to keep this information private. Or perhaps you have felt it would be intrusive to ask. All of you need to know whether they have enough funds to take care of their needs.

What to do? Find out what your parents’ wishes are. Ask: “Where do you want to be? If you can’t manage completely on your own now, or at some time in the future, what kind of living arrangement can you afford?”

See if he or she has a long-term care policy. If your parents want to remain in place, but will need some additional support, ask, “How can I help you stay here if I don’t know whether you have enough money?” If your parents choose not to share this information with you, ask them to speak to a trusted family member or a financial advisor, if they have one, and to make a plan that will give them access to the funds they may need for their care.

Moving. Bringing up the idea of moving can be one of the most difficult conversations to have with an aging parent.  Click to read full article.

Janet B. Kurland and Gail Lipsitz

Janet B. Kurland, LCSW-C, and Gail Lipsitz, Jewish Community Services

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