How to Have THAT Conversation With an Aging Parent

As the average life expectancy gets longer, more and more adults take care of their parents as they age. However, many seniors are very vocal about their choice to stay home and “age in place” until they pass away. While that sounds ideal, the reality is that there might come a time where you need to have THAT conversation with your parents…where you must tell them they can no longer live alone for their own safety.

Williamsburg, Peninsula, and Southside estate planning attorneys know that broaching the subject with your parents needs to be done in a very delicate and compassionate manner. Experience has taught us that the right way to handle this situation is with grace, understanding, and preparation. So here are a few tips to get the conversation started.

First, the easiest way to have the conversation is to do it when your parents are in good health and of sound mind. Having these tough conversations now can give them the space they need to wrap their head around the idea and clearly articulate their needs and desires for their future. Even parents who know it is the right time could put up resistance if it seems they are backed into a corner. Remember, creating a plan does not mean that you have to act on it immediately; it just allows you to start the conversation and create a plan before a crisis occurs.

If you feel like your parents will react poorly to the conversation about moving out of their home, try encouraging their friends, pastors, or even their doctors to broach the subject with them. While there are laws about what your parents’ doctors can tell you, communicating your concerns to them about their safety IS allowed. Sometimes this conversation is better received if it comes from someone else in their circle, even if it is the same advice that you are offering. A more neutral parties’ opinion is sometimes better received.

An equally uncomfortable conversation may concern money. Most people do not want to discuss their finances with others. Elder care can be expensive, and by understanding your parent’s exact financial situation, you can help them make choices that will preserve their nest egg and provide for their care in accordance with their wishes. There may also be a strong possibility that you will have to help them pay bills as they age and having a clear understanding of their finances is important for planning and later decision making.

Finally, the very best way to reach your parents may be to lead by example. Review (or create) your own documents and talk to your parents about the plans you’ve made for yourself and your loved ones now and for when you are in the same position later in life. Then, let your parents know that as you complete your own planning, you’d like to ask them some questions about their affairs, also. It’s a win-win!

Too often, clients come in desperate and exhausted because they failed to have these hard conversations, and now they need help because their parents are unsafe in their current situation, and they refuse to leave their current circumstances. These suggestion are a path to avoid that scenario!

If you are ready to sit down with your parents to have “that” conversation and need help, call (866) 603-5976 to schedule a consultation with our estate planning attorneys. We will guide your family with compassion and understanding to analyze all of your planning options to help you follow the road to peace of mind!