Conversations to Have with Your Parents

conversations to have with parents

My parents are getting older. Dad will be 83 in a few months. Mom will be 72. Dad suffered a fall a couple of months ago and, although he has recovered, a full recovery was in doubt for quite a while. He is also close to being deaf and can hear only with the help of a hearing aid. Even then, he does not hear much unless the speaker is looking directly at him.

Fortunately, my parents are both generally strong and mentally alert. I think they have a few good years left in them. At the same time, their home is rather large for just the two of them and they live very far out of the way in a rural area of Florida. They certainly do not live close to any urgent care facilities. Even though they

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3 Responses to Conversations to Have with Your Parents

  1. Ann says:

    I had a short stint in my career when I was a financial planner. With that as a background and with all the complaints my mom had when my dad died, I was able to steer her towards having a revocable trust done and a medical power of attorney — a living will doesn’t do much except state what someone would prefer; a medical power of attorney, when correctly written, gives an actual person the power to see that excessive measures aren’t taken. I wasn’t able to get her to do a financial power of attorney, but then again, I didn’t really push it. Luckily, when she was ill, I had the financial wherewithal to take care of all of her bills and the funeral, etc.

    When things were right, I talked to my mom about how I felt about being kept alive in certain circumstances and she told me how she felt, which made it much easier when I had to invoke the do not resuscitate clause in the medical power of attorney. I knew how she felt and what she wanted!

    We also discussed the funeral (casket closed because “if people couldn’t come see me when I was alive, I certainly don’t want them staring at me when I’m dead!”), cremation instead of burial, etc. When the time came, again the discussions made it much easier to do the planning. Plus, my mom had a friend that she used to travel with occasionally who kept questioning everything and it helped a lot to be able to simply say “because that’s what she told me she wanted.”

    I was the successor trustee because my mom knew that I’d be meticulous in splitting the estate between my brother and I … and I was local. In some ways, my brother and I had it easy. I asked him what he wanted, I asked his 3 kids what they wanted as momentoes of their grandmother and my brother told me to take first choice of any items. We didn’t have any of the family fighting over certain items that you hear about all the time.

    I have older aunts and uncles. I know at least half of them have moved closer to children and a number have moved into retirement communities, which will take them from single residence through nursing home care, if they need it. A number of them are in their 80′s, but they’re all full of life! As a matter of fact, one 83-year-old uncle remarried for the third time just a year ago. :-) (He’d become a widower twice before.) But I also know, from my mom, how fast that can all change.

    It’s tough, but all those conversations have to be held. I found it easiest to start a number of them by talking about what I wanted “just in case.” Plus, my mom told me exactly where the documents were kept and I started carrying copies of the medical power of attorney with me as soon as she was diagnosed, so that, when the situation called for it, I could get them out and put her wishes on record.

    None of this stuff is easy, but it does have to be done.

  2. Jaime says:

    These are all important conversations to have and hopefully, not just when your parents are older. My birth father died when I was 2 years old. Since mortality struck so young, my Mom would talk occassionally throughout my childhood about certain things. Mostly they were along the lines of, “If something happens to me, Grammy and Grampy (her parents) will be here as soon as possible to help take care of you and your brother.” My favorite (extreme sarcasm) was the time when I was about 13 – we pulled up to a stop sign and Mom said out of the blue “I really like this song and want it played at my funeral.” LOL, you probably don’t want to ambush your kids, but I really appreciate how matter-of-fact my Mom has always been about these kind of things.

    As an adult, it means that I know I do not have to beat around the bush with my Mom. Someday, if I have kids, I want to set the same example and take the lead in letting my kids know that it’s okay to talk about end of life issues. My stepdad though …. he won’t make a will. He feels that talking about or planning for death is inviting death to take you. They both have life insurance and all of their assets are in both of their names, so they should be taken care of but it’s still a little frustrating since none of us know how he would prefer certain things be handled.

    With all luck though, it’s not something we need to worry about for 20 or 30 years. :)

  3. larabelle says:

    My dad is 72 and in poor health and my mother is 70 in poor health. They live three hours away from any family and most of their friends who live nearby and could be of assistance are either ill themselves or have died. I know that as my parents age things are going to be a big MESS!!!
    They will not even think of leaving their home to live closer to family. They already had one winter when they both were bedbound with pnemonia and neither would leave their house to seek medical care until my sister forced them. My brother and I are just waiting for Dad to have a stroke/heart attack etc (uncontrolled blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, high cholesterol) as it is coming since he is so noncompliant with his medications and diet then we will just pick up the pieces.

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