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How To Get Resistant Aging Parents To Talk About The Future

Do your aging parents resist talking about the future or giving you any of their financial or legal information?  You’re not alone.
“The Talk” about the future is off limits for a lot of parents. They are fearful of losing control of their lives.  Many adult children avoid pushing because their parents may even get angry when the subject is raised.  Then, when a crisis happens, the adult children are frustrated and angry because the burden of dealing with it, operating in the dark as it were, is so unfair.
Carolyn Rosenblatt has designed a few techniques to help. It’s part of her Crisis Action Plan seminar she put together to address this specific problem.  To even have a plan, you have to start by asking questions.  That can be tricky.  Here is one way to approach the issue indirectly.
Instead of flat out asking your parents to tell you  their personal information, it may work to talk about emergency preparedness instead.
Natural disasters happen and talking about them can serve as a bridge to the subject of being prepared for personal health emergencies.
So, I agree that you should bring up emergency preparedness as a roundabout way of getting to the information you need.  When the headlines tell us of the latest fire, hurricane, earthquake or tornado, you can use that opportunity to open the subject of what you would do in case a disaster created a health emergency for your aging loved one.
There are some basics everyone needs to have.  Your agenda, hidden or not when you talk to your aging parent, needs to be to get these basics and keep your own records of them.
The specifics:
Have a discussion with your aging parent about what they would want you to do if there were a disaster. It’s less threatening to think about than some other kinds of medical emergencies because it’s happening to someone else, maybe somewhere else.
You can ask, ” Mom, what would you want us to do if you were knocked off your feet by a (tornado, earthquake, flood, etc.,) and had to go to the hospital for awhile?
If the answer is “ I’m never going to be in a hospital, so forget it”, you can’t stop there. You can point out that natural disasters happen all the time and you would be the one to get the phone call if it affected Mom. It’s not fair to leave you without any idea of where to find anything, so Mom needs to help you out.
Ask your aging parent about how you would pay their bills if they were left unconscious as a result of a disaster. If your parent resists talking about this, you might point out that if the bills weren’t paid on time, the electricity would be shut off, the phone service would stop and if there’s a mortgage, the house could go into default.  Insurance policies could be cancelled if premiums weren’t paid, and many losses could occur.  This can help you get to and to make a record of the bank accounts, checking account. If your parent doesn’t have a Durable Power of Attorney for finances, this is an ideal time to get that done.
Ask what your aging parents would want you to do if they got badly hurt and were in a coma.  The scenario you describe as the cause could be whatever natural disaster is most common where you live. Here in Georgia that might be a tornado or a hurricane.  Whatever it is, use headline news of these events to your advantage in bringing up the subject. It is fresh, talked about, scary and real at that moment and it can help you get to what you need to know: your parents’ wishes.  Again, if your parent does not have a Health Care Advance Directive or any document in which his or her end of life  wishes are written down, now is a good time to get that done, too.
If you can get the names of the primary care doctor, the lawyer and the financial advisor if they have these, that’s even better.  It can all be part of the same discussion.  Another excellent addition to your record of information is the name of a neighbor, friend or someone nearby who could help if your parent were in distress and could not, herself, get to a phone.
Store all you are able to get from your parents in a mobile device or on paper.  Keep it where you can get to it if you need it fast.
Although your real reason for wanting the information is because anything can happen to an elder, especially in failing health, the presented reason is also legitimate. What would you do if you really did get the phone call that a disaster had struck and your aging parent was affected directly?  It may be easier for your parent to give you what you need to know if you pose it in these terms rather than in terms of the parent losing capacity from aging or developing dementia.  They can ignore those possibilities, but it’s harder to ignore things they see happening right now on TV.
Planning for emergencies is something everyone needs to do, but we may overlook the need for it with aging loved ones.  Take the first step and find a way into the subject.  As they age, anything can happen.  You’ll feel a lot more confident if you have the information you need when the time comes.

At Goldberg & Associates, we specialize in handling elder law and elder law cases. All of our resources are at your fingertips when you work with Goldberg & Associates. We will do everything in our power to ensure the maximum amount that can be saved, will be saved for your retirement. No stone goes unturned at Goldberg & Associates; we are prepared to make sure you do everything you need to in order to max out those savings options, and make way for the time when you will get to retire.