By Judy Given, Sr. Director, Campus Development
Aging is a part of life. It is a series of transitions and often we are not well equipped to navigate these changes.
Dying is one thing we all have in common, and it is the one topic most families fail to discuss until it’s a necessity. It’s best to have conversations about the future when things are going fairly well and not in a crisis situation.
Keep the conversation positive and avoid making “you need” statements.
Wishes and Fears Whenever possible, start asking questions about their wishes and fears as they age. It’s helpful to know what is most important before exploring specific options with them.
Medical Make sure there is a list of all their doctors and medication. Find out how often they have appointments and if there are any rising health concerns. What health insurance do they have and do they have supplemental? What is the process for reimbursements?
Will or Trust Estate planning can greatly impact future generations. Without a will or trust, the estate goes through probate, which could take years. It will also impact your bottom line after taxes. Assets will be divided among living family members instead of all those it was intended for.
Finances Many in the Baby Boomer generation had one person manage all the finances. What happens if that person is no longer able to manage it? Is there a folder listing all the bills, how they are paid and how often? What are the passwords to get into the accounts?
Long-Term Care Have you talked about future living arrangements? Most seniors prefer to age in place, but for many that is not realistic due to medical or financial issues. Having a discussion about long-term care will give them a voice on where they want to live instead of having to make that choice for them. Do your homework and visit a few places ahead of time so you can discuss options. Let them know you are behind any decision they choose to make.
These are uncomfortable and overwhelming conversations for everyone involved but talking about it in advance can prepare you emotionally for the inevitable. Think of it as a process for advance care planning. For now, cherish your moments and make your memories, knowing you have a solid plan for the future that everyone agrees on.