The holiday season is a busy time for those of us in the senior care industry. Many families only get together during this one time of the year, and this rare visit to aging parents usually brings up some undeniably critical issues.
The holidays bring families together, and many adult children become painfully aware of their parents’ aging issues while visiting.
Many age-related issues can be hidden (or ignored) during the weekly or monthly phone calls. Many adult children dismiss or excuse-away the potential issues. We get it—these issues are often intimidating and time-consuming. We all want to believe that our parents are doing as well as they claim. We also do not want to invade our parents’ privacy or step on their autonomy.
Seeing parents in-person over an extended period of time, though, can really change that perspective. In response, senior care providers start getting a lot of phone calls from concerned family members in November and December. Elder law attorneys, home care agencies, assisted living communities, and nursing homes see an increase in inquiries during the holidays.
Knowing this trend, we have a few recommendations for adult children planning to visit their aging parents this holiday season.
- Find out what legal documents are already in place. The holidays are a great time to discuss advance planning issues. Ask your parents if they have a complete and updated advance directive and power of attorney for finances. Ask them if they have any other important advance planning documents.
- Request a copy of those documents or make a plan to get them completed or updated. Do not take their word for it! Ask to get a copy of the documents so you can verify that they have been completed, that they are accessible, and that they still reflect their current wishes. If they cannot be located, are not completed, or have not been updated in the last 5 years, make a plan to correct that.
- Ask your parents about their wishes for long-term care and end-of-life care. We know you may not want to talk about “such depressing issues” over the holidays. You can find a million reasons to keep putting off the conversation, but this really helps no one. We all think it’s too early to talk about it—until it’s too late. Do not put off these discussions anymore.
- Explore their financial means and concerns. Paying for long-term care is hard. Many older adults (and their families) fear not having enough money, going broke, or outliving their savings. Ask your parents about their income and assets and about their fears. Find out what is most important to them and about their goals for their money and future.
- Agree on a place to store important papers and information. Find out how your parents organize their important papers and where they are kept. In an emergency, you will need to know how to access their bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance information, power of attorney, advance directive, and more.
Having walked this journey with hundreds of families, we know there are things you can do before the crisis to help be prepared. This holiday season may be a good time to get started.
If you are looking for experienced, professional, compassionate allies to help you with your aging parents, Hurley Elder Care Law may be a great match for you. Our team of experts have the professional skills, knowledge, and experience. We all have a personal passion to help make this aging journey as pain-free as possible. To learn more about the services at Hurley Elder Care Law, please contact our office at (404) 843-0121 or through our website.