This is a great time of year to check in with our loved ones. On a recent episode of Senior Matters Radio, we covered specifically things you could be looking for with your aging loved ones. These can be signs they need help around the house or need to consider another living situation. Beyond what you can see, it's also a really good time to check in with them and have meaningful conversations while you can.
Wants and needs
Whether you need something yourself or are checking with loved ones, you can start that conversation. This often comes from the side of the loved one—your aging parent may not notice or want to admit he/she needs help. So ask! Do they need help with the yard? Help around the house? Meals? Help with bill paying and organizing finances? The only way for you to find out is to ask. No, it's not prying. Even if they accuse you! Better to be upfront and ask the questions than wait until it's too late. When you work together on a solution, the end result is much better than when the situation needs drastic measures.
If you are the one who needs something, speak up! Maybe you don't have a solution or know what to ask for. That's okay, you don't have to have all the answers. But your loved ones can't help you unless they know you need something. It can be as simple as saying "I could really use some help with dinners. Do you have any ideas?" Or "Grocery shopping is too much of a chore. Can you help me find a delivery service?" Speak up! Your loved ones are happy to help, and if they know you'll ask for it when you need it, they'll trust you and not try to impose their own plans.
This is a tough issue. Many people don't want people in their financial business. It can be hard for us to ask our loved ones about their situations. But this is another case where the sooner you know the situation, the better the options and outcomes. If you wait too long, it's hard to fix. Without knowing, though, there's no way for anyone to help. If you need help paying bills, let someone know! Many, many of our aging population are targeted by scammers. There's no shame in asking for help getting organized and making sure your ducks are in a row.
For children or other loved ones of seniors: what you don't know can hurt you! If you don't know the financial situation of your parents or other loved one, you could be setting yourself up for a tricky situation. Ask now and help while you can—when it's not an emergency and everyone still has options. Most of the time, the sooner you seek help, the better. If you wait too long, there will be very limited options.
Are your loved ones happy where they are? Can they get around the house? Do they need help or modifications? Is it getting burdensome to prepare meals? Are they lonely? Ask! They may not come out and say it, but there are options. If they aren't happy, work together to figure out what needs to change for them to be comfortable.
There are so many options for different living situations—there's no blanket solution that applies to everyone. From staying home and getting in-home help, to making a new home somewhere else, there are great opportunities. But, you can only take advantage of them if you know what your loved one needs and how best to support him/her.
Plans for the future
If your loved one has no formal documentation in place, now's the time to ask and make it happen. From any angle, having the protection and reassurance of legal documents can help all of you in the future. Everyone should have documentation of their medical wishes and power of attorney, along with a plan for their estate at the time of their death. Even without a lot of assets, if there's anything to be distributed, your family will have to endure the probate process unless you have a plan.
There should also be conversations around paying for long-term care, disability, and any other issues that may arise in the future. It can be uncomfortable to have these conversations, but not as uncomfortable as having nothing and leaving your family with no direction on your wishes.
If you have questions about starting these conversations, let us know! We work hard to make sure everyone knows what they need to have in place for comfort and peace of mind. Contact our office for a free consultation. We'd love to meet you.