Speaking to aging parents about their future, is really a conversation about mortality, and that is not an easy conversation to undertake at any age. The top 7 things to consider when speaking to an elderly person about their future are
1. What should happen in the event the person cannot make decisions about their own life? Do they want to be kept on life support? Who is in charge of making the decision to end life sustaining equipment? Somebody must assume the power of attorney. This decision should be made while the person is of sound mind, and hopefully left to somebody who is also of sound mind. Put the decision in writing, and have it notarized.
2. Is there a will? Who is the designated executor of the will. This is different from who is the beneficiary of the will. The executor of the will is the person who is in charge of distributing the assets of the will, and assures that assets are distributed legally correct.
3. What are the financial resources available to care for the future of an aging person? This will determine housing and medical options in the event, the parent needs assisted living care. Medicare benefits need to be considered. Veterans programs and entitlements need to be evaluated. How much money does the parent have to make it through their life? If there are inadequate resources, what arrangements will be made. If there is plenty of money and available resources, would a living trust make sense, so that money can be left to heirs? A living trust can be beneficial, so that resources can be distributed to heirs without being wiped out by medical costs.
4. Where does the person want to be buried? Do they want to be buried or would they prefer cremation? What does the person want to have happen to their remains? Having recently had this conversation with my Dad, I can tell you this is not an easy conversation.
5. Does the person want to have an autopsy? Do they want to donate portions of their body to science?
6. Where is all the necessary paperwork? Where is the will? Financial papers? Necessary documents?
7. What are the medical resources available? Who is the primary care physician?
Overall in planning the future of aging parents, know the available resources, and know where important papers are kept. Understand who should be contacted in an emergency. Getting as much information in writing will prevent problems down the road, in the event the parent is unable to care for themselves.
Tammy Stoner is a licensed clinical social worker and life coach. She provides training and education to health care organizations, and individuals coping with grief and loss. Skilled at helping people uncover the blocks that keep them “stuck", she is able to quickly find internal and external strategies to get “unstuck", and live a life you love. For more information about coaching services, please visit her website at http://www.teddybeartherapy.com