Have You Had the Talk?

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? (Takeout
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
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”!
By Lorie Aldridge, Director of Marketing and Sales,
Trinity Oaks Retirement Community, Salisbury, NC