When the roles start to reverse and it’s now our elderly parents who need us to provide care, we realize just how challenging being an adult can be. Suddenly, you are not only facing a big responsibility but, you could also be getting a glimpse into your own future. Both can be a bit overwhelming.
Having witnessed this firsthand, I’ve seen the challenges other family and friends have faced or are facing in caring for their parents and it has taught me two things:
- Start having these conversations early: Let’s face it. It’s a touchy subject. As adults, we all value our independence. Imagine having to think about possibly giving up things you take for granted today, like managing your money or simply driving. Nonetheless, we should be having these conversations to know what these wishes are. Heaven forbid but, if a decline in health, like dementia, should occur before we have prepared, we may not get the opportunity to find out what our parents wishes would have been.
- Real planning is needed: After the discussions, real action needs to follow. This means getting these wishes documented in a legal fashion. For example, having a health care power of attorney that allows you to make medical decisions on behalf of an ailing parent in accordance with their previously expressed desires. Not having this documented could either lead to trips to court to iron this out, costing both a good amount of time and money, or living with the frustration of not being able to step in and make needed decisions on a parent’s behalf.
I came across a video titled “Are you trying to solve the Elderly Parent Puzzle?” The interview is with Dave Beck, partner and insurance agent at the financial services firm Egan, Berger & Weiner, LLC. Rather than simply offering financial advice, Beck provides meaningful insight into the importance of proper preparation, drawing on his own experience with this very issue.
I have one final thought on this. If you have adult children, it may be time to have that talk with them and to set plans in motion for your own care in your later years. It may save some headaches and heartache for all involved.