November 1, 2021

Your Advocacy Connection

By Gail Glockhoff-Long
GolderCare Solutions
Benefits Advocate

Is it Time for “The Talk”

Time marches on. Kids grow up, we age, and at some point we realize our parents have also aged. It may be a difficult adjustment for both you and your parents but your roles have reversed. It is time for you to be the adult in the room.

Recently you notice mom is confused more often than not and dad’s health is declining rapidly. You realize that you have no idea what your parents would want or what planning they have done for this stage of life. Have they thought about an assisted living or nursing home they would prefer when the time comes? Do they have funds to pay for that care? Do they want all possible medical care or to just be allowed to pass in God’s time? Do they have a preferred funeral home? Would they want to be buried or cremated? You have no idea.
Late-in-life and end-of-life discussions can be difficult, but they can also bring you closer together. We have seen families where dad has always made ALL of the decisions – and dad now has severe dementia rendering the family unable to move forward. No one knew what he would have wanted and are paralyzed by indecision. Some families wait until the parent is no longer able to participate making the task of collecting information that much more difficult.

If your parents have not shared their thoughts, is it time for you to be the adult in the room and start the “Talk” with them? If so, plan ahead. Don’t pepper them with questions demanding answers that would make them defensive. Use the “we” approach of jointly solving a problem together to help maintain dignity and respect. Work the subjects into conversation over time.

Have they done Powers of Attorney & Wills? Have they planned alternatives to living in their house when they need more care? Are there financial assets to pay for care? What about end of life? Tackle what they are comfortable with at the time and in the order most appropriate for them. This may take multiple discussions.

I tend to be pretty straight forward – “Dad, I notice you have difficulty hearing on the phone, do you have Powers of Attorney in place naming one of us kids to help with business transactions and medical issues?” If yes, you want to make sure the named agents have a copy. If no, next step is to schedule an appointment with an Elderlaw attorney. The Powers of Attorney are what give someone the authority to be dad’s voice when he is no longer able to advocate for himself.

“Mom, did you and dad ever do Wills? When needed, where would we find them?” If she says the attorney kept the Wills, make sure you know who that is and if they are still alive and practicing law. Most attorneys do not keep Wills. It is probably in the safe deposit box or the important papers file drawer. If no Will or it is old, add that to the list for the attorney visit.

“Mom, you visit your friend Betty at Friendship Manor and your friend Florence at New Perspectives. Have you given any thought to where you would like to move when you need some help or just don’t want to worry about keeping up the house?” What does she like or dislike about each place? Where do her friends live? That will give you ideas when the time comes.

“Dad, you know I will be the one planning your funeral at some point. Can you give me some guidance as to your preferences?”

You will also need to broach the topic of assets. It can be as simple as asking where they bank and if they have investment accounts. Offer to step in and help write checks for them to sign if you see a stack of bills on the table.

Ideally, something would have come up in conversations over the years to give you guidance on their assets, income, and wishes for the next stage of their life. If not, it is time for you to be the adult in the room and start the conversation. Trust me, you will feel so much more confident caring for your parent when you know their goals and what you have to work with to accomplish that goal. Have the Talk while they are still able to give you answers and there is time to fill the gaps.

GolderCare Solutions Unlimited, LLC has provided advocacy for seniors and the disabled since 2008. For more information, please call at 309-764-2273 or email:


Filed Under: Health & Wellness, Personal Growth, Retirement

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