As parents we strive to maintain control of our affairs so our adult children don’t have to worry themselves about us. While we can’t always predict the changes that come along with aging, we do know that the most common changes are related to health, living arrangements, the need for assistance, finances, and end-of-life issues. I’ve learned from experience that talking about important life decisions and planning ahead helps families better cope with the changes that come with our parents as they age. By talking through these situations, you can avoid crisis decision-making and prevent emotional and difficult situations.
Though the majority of older adults say they are perfectly comfortable discussing life changes with their family, in most cases the discussions never happen. So, how and where do you start? Begin by creating a list of “what if’s.” Some questions to get the discussion started might include:
- What if I had a health condition where I could no longer live alone? Where would I want to live? Would I live in my home with medical assistance, with my family or assisted living?
- What if I developed significant memory loss? Who would I want in charge of my finances? Help me make financial or medical decisions?
- Who would take me to appointments? Grocery for me? Make sure I’m bathed and my medicines are taken as directed?
Take advantage of natural opportunities to talk about these issues. For example, if someone you know is going through an aging situation, bring it up and encourage conversation about how your family would handle similar circumstances. Make time or an appointment to talk about these issues, and meeting in person is the best when discussing life’s decisions that include living arrangements, long-term care, driving status and financial planning. End-of-life issues are never at the top of anyone’s list, but are also very important and should be included in conversations about your future as you age.
It’s important to have a plan before health problems arise. Conversations may not always be easy, but they are vitally important and can help a person maintain control at a time in their lives when they may not be able to speak for themselves. Most people want to have these conversations, they just don’t know where to begin. So don’t wait — plan a meeting today with your family so all questions are handled before any issues arise.
Methodist ElderCare’s staff is available to assist you and your loved one with questions and concerns about planning for the future as you age. Call Methodist ElderCare Services at 614-396-4990 today to arrange an appointment to visit one of our locations and learn how we can help you and your family put a life plan in motion.