Ready to Talk With Your Parents?

Starting the Conversation with your Parents

It’s difficult to think about your parents aging and the fact that they may need your help in caring for them. Your parents certainly don’t want to lose their independence and rely on you for help.

Making a point to sit down with your parents and openly discuss the situation can be uncomfortable. No one likes to discuss their financial, legal or health care issues with anyone, especially their children. However, waiting until you are forced to have this conversation as a result of an urgent health crisis can result in quick decisions and your parents desires going unmet.

Make things easier on yourself and your other family members by having an open and honest discussion with your parents about their future, and in turn you will help ensure that their preferences are honored.  A few pointers to help you have a meaningful conversation include:

  • Talk to your parents while they’re still in good health, when they don’t need any extra assistance.
  • Do they have a plan? If not, offer to help with researching what options exist and what things they should consider in their plan.
  • Treat your parent as an adult and reinforce that they are the decision maker, and that you want to respect and honor their wishes. Openly share your concerns, but really listen to their concerns and point of view.
  • Don’t exclude other family members, siblings or other relatives that might need to be involved in this planning.
  • Don’t worry about trying to make all the decisions in one conversation. The key is to get the process started. Encourage small changes.
  • Don’t be afraid of silence. It means that people are thinking.
  • Agree to disagree. You probably won’t agree on everything, and that’s OK. Your parents’ wishes are what is important, unless their health or safety is in question.
  • Know where to find important documents like insurance policies, living wills, health care proxies, trust documents, tax returns, wills, health insurance information, investment and banking records. Have a list of important contact information readily available.

The first conversation might be a little awkward; after all, you are asking your parent to confront their aging life. However it can be rewarding to be able to help your parent maintain their independence they want, along with the care and support they need.  What you really want is to spend your time celebrating life with them!