Have You Had “The Talk?”
By Lorie Aldridge, Director of Marketing and Sales,
Trinity Oaks Retirement Community, Salisbury, NC
As parents of pre-teens we all have had the fear and apprehensions of having “the talk” with our kids. We plan a day, place, and time and we get through it quickly and painlessly the best way we can in hopes of never having to broach the subject ever again.
Fast forward, many years later, and we find ourselves in the same situation, but this time it is not about the birds and the bees. Unfortunately, we are having a more difficult and painful conversation with our parents. We are having “the talk” about aging, end of life and end of life planning.
As our parents reach their seventies, eighties and nineties we start to see changes in their abilities to process, problem solve, successfully complete activities of daily living and care for their homes.
Approaching your independent parents can be very difficult, as many seniors are in denial of their current state of functioning or the condition of their home.
Some questions to ask: Are you eating properly? (Take-out at a fast food restaurant doesn’t count.) Are you taking your meds on time? Are you getting enough exercise every day? Are you able to get to doctor’s appointments? Are you getting enough social interaction daily? (Church and hairdresser once a week is not enough.)
If your parents are not able to answer these questions successfully, it is definitely time for “the talk.” A lot of seniors will pay someone to take care of the yard maintenance and hire a cleaning service to take care of the interior of the home. This can become very costly.
There are so many pieces to the aging puzzle that have to fit to ensure that seniors are getting the best help and care for an optimal quality of life. Continuing Care Retirement Communities are the best option for many seniors because they provide a holistic approach to living and wellness. If seniors cannot afford that option, friends and family may be engaged to step up and assist their loved ones to ensure their safety, care and well-being.
Home health services are another option but can be very expensive as the number of hours of assistance required daily start to increase. At that point, assisted living is an option. Seniors require assisted living when they can no longer perform their activities of daily living without some assistance. These include bathing, dressing, ambulation, and medication management.
Skilled care is required when more extensive services are required. Skilled Care is the most expensive option of all. Ask your parents what hospital, rehab unit or assisted living facility they would wish to go to if there were an accident and they are no longer able to make those decisions. Visit the facilities and get on their waiting lists if they are offered.
Do you know your parent’s wishes? Do they have a plan? Sit down with them and have “the talk.” You may encounter a great deal of defensiveness, push-back, or silent behaviors. This is something they do not want to think about as we all think we are going to live forever. Children and those with Power of Attorney need to know if there is a Last Will and Testament, DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order or a living will. Where are these documents located? The last place you want it to be is in a safe without access to the code. Having a locksmith come in to crack the code is the least convenient thing you would want to do in a time of stress or grief. Where are your parent’s banking and investment accounts located and have they named someone to access their accounts in an emergency? Are there life insurance policies? Are the bills set up as automatic draft? Are there lenders that they owe? Have they pre-paid their burial and funeral costs? So many questions with so little time.
Don’t be the child that was too afraid to have “the talk” with their parents. Life is much harder and estates are more difficult to settle when plans aren’t in place and wishes aren’t conveyed to children or executors. Ask the difficult questions and be prepared. Your parents or loved ones will thank you and be at peace knowing that someone knows their wishes and will take care of everything in the short term and the long term after they are gone. What are you waiting for? Go have “The Talk”!