Caring for Aging Parents Series: Having that (very important) Conversation with Your Parents

Life changes are often a trigger for people needing assistance from a professional organizer. Many of our clients find themselves transitioning into the role of caregiver for aging parents. Often, most are less than prepared for this shift, and the new responsibilities come with a need for systems, routines, and organization.

In the coming months, I’ll be posting a series of blogs on this topic to get you thinking about what goes into serving as a caregiver, including document & paper management, strategies for downsizing & relocation, and so much more.

To start things off, I wanted to share some thoughts about having “difficult conversations” with aging parents about their eldercare.

I’d like to suggest that the first step is removing that terminology. If you head into the talk with the preconceived notion that it will be “difficult” or contentious, that’s precisely the outcome you will get!

 

Instead…

  • Obviously, whenever possible, these conversations are better to do in advance, before health or self-care has declined and while your parents are still independent.
  • If you’re seeing signs that it’s time to take action such as missing basic life tasks, mood and/or habit changes, health changes, etc. try to surround yourself with a support system ahead of time.
  • Choose an appropriate time to have a conversation. If it makes sense, schedule it ahead of time so that your parents can be prepared and not feel blindsided by the conversation.
  • Plan a comfortable setting where everyone can be as relaxed as possible.
  • Listen actively, and ask open-ended questions. This approach will usually get you more information than you expected.
  • Rehearse what you want to say, and what points you want to make. Take notes so that you don’t forget anything critical.
  • If feasible, don’t try to have the full conversation all at once, that can be extremely overwhelming for everyone.
  • Realize that your parents emotions may cloud how they treat you or speak to you. Try to put yourselves in their shoes and show compassion in order to build trust. 

 

Things to ask:

1. What is their ideal living situation?

2. What are their health care wishes? Is there a living will, or can one be created?

3. What is the status of wills, & estate planning?

4. What is their medical history? Generate a list of current medications.

5. What belongings are most important to them or have the most value (monetary or sentimental)? Is making an inventory possible?

6. Generate a list of financial accounts with log-in information. Consider using LastPass to store account numbers and passwords securely for shared access.

7. What is the location of key documents like trusts, deeds, bonds, insurance policies, identity documents, family records, etc.?

 

What first step can you take with your parents, no matter their age, to get started? 

More in the Series:

Caring for Aging Parents Series: Demystifying EOB’s

Caring for Aging Parents Series: Collecting Critical Documents

 

Image used under license agreement: ©ANDREJS PIDJASS/Stockfresh

About Wendy Buglio

Wendy is the CEO & Owner of Living Peace, a Certified Professional Organizer who has earned both Level II CD (Chronic Disorganization) and ADD Specialist designations from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.

She is dedicated to discovering what’s most important and then developing strategies to get everything else out of the way. With her non-judgmental approach and calming energy (combined with a healthy dose of reality and a sense of humor), she works with clients to make decisions and take action to create desired change. She applies this approach to physical objects in residential and office environments, but also to intangible “clutter” – such as tasks, obligations and goals – helping to maximize her clients’ productivity and organization. Some of her favorite clients have ADD – something that Wendy sees as an asset to creative thinkers and entrepreneurs!

Wendy lives in Arlington, MA with her husband Mike (bookstore owner), their 7-year-old son Tony, and rescue dog Rosie. In her free time, she loves to entertain and plan events, visit Downeast Maine, and is a competitive fantasy football player. She is a repeat 39-mile walker for the Avon 39, The Walk to End Breast Cancer.

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