Many adult children start to notice changes in mom or dad. Depending on your family dynamic, you may know a lot or very little about what they have planned for the rest of their lives. Many of us want to be able to help our parents if they needed it, and most of our parents are resistant to even consider asking for help from their children.
My suggestion is to start by sharing with your parents your plans. Do you have an estate plan in place? Have you named them as a guardian or executor? I’m surprised by how many people who think estate plans should be secret. Secret estate plans won’t help you when you need it. I sent copies of my completed estate plans to my three siblings and sat down and discussed it at length with my brother who would be guardian to my children along with my children one Saturday afternoon this winter. I could see the comfort on my 12-year old daughter’s face as we talked through the plan.
My children have watched as I’ve been the primary adult caregiver for my parents which I have been blogging about for several years on DealingwithDementia.org. Had my parents not told me their plans and shared their wishes for retirement with me, my job would be so much more difficult and stressful. I know that I’ve been fulfilling their wishes to the best of my abilities.
It’s particularly important to do more than the estate lawyer, financial planner and insurance advisor recommend. You need to talk about your choices, leave a roadmap to your documents, accounts, and assets and repeat these conversations as time and circumstances allow.
I recommend you get your own house in order and use it to share with mom and dad what you are doing and even ask for their advice. It’s a great way to start a conversation.
Four products to help you navigate these choices include:
Five Wishes is legally binding in 42 states and lets your family and doctors know:
- Who you want to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them.
- The kind of medical treatment you want or don’t want.
- How comfortable you want to be.
- How you want people to treat you.
- What you want your loved ones to know.
The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people start the discussion about their wishes for end-of-life care.
The Roadmap to the Rest of Your Life by Bart Astor will help you hone in on the options and the choices that you need to consider.
MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life is a practical system to help couples share account numbers, usernames, and medical and household details so that they can stay on the same page; it also provides individuals a solution to easily share this information should they ever need a loved one to step in and help them.