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!
- 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
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