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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

How to Talk to Parents About the Future

 

Talking to parents about the future and how to plan for it may be one of the most challenging but necessary conversations you will ever have. This conversation should include discussion about all the necessary legal documents that need to be in place as people age, as well as how they want to deal with their own aging and any medical ailments that go with it.

You will be rebuffed. When you are, there’s only one thing to do – keep trying. However, I was pleased when my children recently talked with me about this sometimes sensitive topic.   While I am in the business of counseling others about the importance of having this discussion, I realized that they were not clear about what I wanted done and the planning documents I had in place. While I was a little surprised, it reminded me about how much they cared about me and wanted to be sure that any decisions that had to be made if I was incapacitated were the decisions I would have made. Even if they were not the decisions that they would make about themselves.

The difficulty is knowing when and where to try again. If there is no impending crisis, it may be best to wait. But, while waiting may seem like the course of least resistance, in the end, it is not what’s best for you or your parents.

When you do finally get the right moment to talk, be ready to talk about everything. Talk honestly about the changes you are seeing in your parents and your concerns about the future. It’s best if you do your research in advance, so you are prepared for the meeting. That research should include having a preliminary conversation with an elder law attorney.

Try to explain to your parents that the purpose of the conversation is to make you better prepared to help them in the future. Being proactive now could define how they will be cared for when they need help.

If you have siblings or other relatives who can help, you should all be on the same page. If anyone in the family believes this is not necessary, your efforts are, in all likelihood, doomed to fail. If your parents trust a doctor or religious leader, they can be a powerful partner in this effort.

It may be useful to talk about yourself and any planning you are doing. It may go a long way if they see that their child is planning for the future. If any of their friends are dealing with similar issues, use them as an example as well.   

If all your efforts fail, you may have to plan without your parents. Talk to other family members and have strategies in place should some medical issue occur.

In our community there are a number of good resources to help you help your parents. Take advantage of them.


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