Navigating the Next Phase: You and Your Aging Parents - Wylkan Estate Planning & Certified Elder Law

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Navigating the Next Phase: You and Your Aging Parents

November 29, 2023

For most of our lives, we’ve turned to our parents to take care of our needs. They’ve been the wise sages who are several decades ahead of us, providing the pattern for what to do (or what not to do) all throughout our childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

And then the time comes, often unexpectedly, when our parents lose some of their vim and vigor. They seem more forgetful. They seem… old. When did that happen?!

It’s easy to pass off minor changes in your aging parents’ behavior, but there are some situations and warning signs that could indicate your parents need more assistance. 

How has their home environment changed? Is it more cluttered than normal? 

Have they lost weight or gained weight? 

Are they forgetting to take their medication or taking too much? 

Are there unpaid bills lying around? 

Has their mood changed? 

What about their ability to be as physically active as they used to be? 

Have they fallen prey to scams? This in particular is a big red flag.

If any of these questions make you think twice about their health and wellbeing, it might be time to shift gears and transition into a new role with your aging parents—that of caregiver.

Don’t panic. We all go through these seasons of life, and you are just as capable—probably even more so—of navigating these waters than the generations that came before.

What to Say and How to Say It: Having “The Talk” with Your Aging Parents about Legal, Financial, and Emotional Considerations

If your parents are there already, now is the time to start talking to older loved ones while they are still making good, sound decisions.

And if you’re breathing a sigh of relief because your parents are old… but not that old, it wouldn’t hurt to start taking steps in the direction of these conversations. Sooner is always better than later.

You thought you were off the hook!

These conversations can be just as difficult for your parents as they are for you. Here are some tips that can help you successfully navigate the changing tides.

  • Take it slow. Unless your parent is big into long assessments, it’s best not to overwhelm them with all of your questions at once. You might begin with a simple leading question like, “What do you want to happen when…” which can open the door for more questions.

  • Be an active listener. Try your best to set aside your hopes and expectations so that you can hear your parents’ desires. Take notes, engage in the conversation, and reserve your emotions and thoughts until later. Let them do  as much of the talking as you can.

  • Validate your loved one’s feelings. It’s hard for all of us to face our mortality, and your parent might be feeling a whole range of emotions about the next stage of their life. Acknowledge those feelings, do your best to withhold judgment, and give them space to process their emotions.

  • Take steps to help your parents look out for scams. Aging parents are particularly vulnerable to bank and credit card phishing scams. It’s difficult to stay up-to-date on all of the different scams that are out there, but you can offer your parents a little of your hard-earned skepticism. Educate yourself about common scams, and if possible, set up a system that allows you more access to accounts so that you can monitor them for suspicious activity.

  • Familiarize yourself with what you’ll need to oversee your loved one’s legal and financial affairs. We shared a checklist for caregivers previously on this blog that provides specific forms and detailed instructions to help you make sure your parents’ files are in order.

This can feel like an overwhelming subject between you and your parents, but what’s worse is not having the conversation at all. 

If this is your first foray into elder care, our team at Wylkan Law is here to help you navigate these confusing waters. We can help you sort through your parents’ long-term care and estate planning, whether they have a plan together or are just beginning the process.

Learn more about our services or give us a call at (800) 635-1355 to chat through your concerns. We’re here to support you and encourage you through this next stage of your life with your parents.

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Fremont, OH 43420
Phone: (800) 635-1355
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