As parents age, it is important to have an open discussion with them about their physical, psychological and financial needs.
Communicating with your aging parent is beneficial for a number of reasons. For instance, it can ensure that your parent’s wishes are adhered to when they are no longer able to express themselves or make decisions on their own. It can also ease the decision-making burden and stress that is often placed on an adult child’s shoulders.
Above all, steady communication can help to protect your parent from abuse and neglect in a nursing home.
The following are tips for talking with elderly parents and things you should be familiar with as your parent ages.
Topics You Need to Talk About with Your Parent Related to Aging
Watching a parent age can be emotional. If your parent is unable to express desires about the parent’s care or the handling of his or her estate, you may feel confused and stressed about how to help the parent.
Here are a few topics that you need to talk about with your parent while they are still of a sound mind:
Your parents’ desires concerning their healthcare is a highly important topic. You should specifically discuss the types of treatment that they may want or not want. For example, do they want life-saving measures in the event of a severe illness or injury such as a feeding tube and ventilator? Where do they want their healthcare to be administered? Do they have a preference of hospital? Would they prefer to die within a hospital or at home? Who do they want to be in charge of making their healthcare decisions in the event that they are unable to do so? You should work with your parents on preparing a healthcare power of attorney and healthcare advance directive. Make sure that you know what these legal documents say and where they are located.
As people age, it often becomes more difficult for them to care for themselves. When this is the case, elderly parents may need assistance with moving about, bathing, grooming, eating or attending to their healthcare needs. Talk to your parents about what their wishes are when it comes to assisted living. Some people prefer to live in an assisted living community such as a nursing home, while others may choose home healthcare services. Still, others may want to live in a retirement community with assistance available. Talk about all of the options available to your parents and even join them on a visit to assisted living communities which they are considering.
If your parent is already residing within a nursing home or receiving any other type of nursing care, it is important that you check in regularly with your parent about this.
While it is something that no one likes to think about, nursing home abuse occurs with alarming frequency. As your parent ages within a nursing home, make sure to keep an eye out for any signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse, such as:
- Changes in weight
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Bruises or cuts
- Behavioral changes
- Obvious declines in health.
If you notice any of these, you need to be prepared to communicate with your parent about it.
Talking about money matters can be a touchy subject. Still, it is very important that your aging parent creates a will and estate plan while he or she is mentally competent and able to do so. Knowing exactly how an estate will be distributed, how debts will be paid, who will be the executor of the estate and responsible for dividing assets and more are all critical subjects. Having this discussion can mitigate disputes between family members after a parent’s death. You should also talk to your parents about who they would like to be their financial power of attorney (the person who has the power to make financial decisions on an individual’s behalf when they are no longer able to do so). Ensure that this preference is expressed in a legally valid document.
How to Approach Talking with Aging Parents
Talking with aging parents about the above matters can be a tough thing to do for all parties. Most children do not want to think about a time when their parents will no longer be here, and most aging people do not like to think about their own death or the inability to care for themselves or manage their affairs.
It is important that you approach talking about these issues with patience and an open mind. Tell your parents that you would like to discuss important matters related to aging and set a time that works for everyone.
You should make sure to include all members of your family who may be impacted such as other siblings. Do your best to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Come prepared with a list of topics to talk about such as the ones listed above, as well as any additional issues that are specific to your family. Also, consider bringing in a neutral third party to help mediate. Third parties that may be helpful include a religious figure from your church, a professional mediator, a counselor or an attorney.
How Our Lawyers Can Help
At the law offices of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., we understand the emotional nature of talking to aging parents and helping them during the last years of their life. We also understand how any signs of nursing home abuse or neglect can be devastating and may leave you feeling shocked, outraged and unsure of where to turn for help.
Our lawyers are advocates for aging persons and their families in New Jersey and New York. We can help you to investigate suspicions of nursing home abuse or neglect and help you to take action to protect your aging parent.
When you need a legal professional you can trust, contact us today online or by phone for a free consultation.