Have you ever read the children's book Love You Forever, where the mother cares for her growing son until, as a grown man, the son cares for his aging mother? The story depicts a parent/child role reversal that many experience in real life.
Talking about aging with parents can be difficult. But being honest about the topic is important. To help guide the conversation, here are four common concerns you may face with an aging parent and tips on how to address them.
Decide on Living Arrangements Early
Multi-level homes or complicated floor plans might make everyday living difficult and dangerous for aging parents. Discussing it sooner rather than later, while parents are active and not in a distressed state, can help them ease into the idea of new living arrangements like a one-story home or assisted living facility.
If parents insist on staying in their current home, consider homecare and installing assistive equipment, like handrails, as needed.
Focus on the Road
Ninety-year-old Erie Insurance customer Vivian Cash, who started driving in 1949, loved the independence that comes with driving. While priding herself on never having an accident, she had a near-miss that resulted in her decision to stop driving.
“If I'm driving my car and I had a problem, I could hurt someone or myself. It just isn't worth it,” explained Vivian. “My doctor told me I'm going to live to 100 and I'm planning a big party. I want to be here to enjoy it.”
Once you begin to notice a difference in your parents' driving ability, consider suggesting a driving class that may help sharpen skills and also lower insurance costs. Offer to accompany them to classes so they don't feel alone. Help map out ways for your parents to get to all of their daily activities via alternate transportation. Encourage them to sign up for group activities with friends where carpooling moves them from point A to point B.
Update Important Documents
Ensure parents have a will and that it's been updated in the past five years. A lot can change in five years, so be sure it reflects their current wishes. Establish who will be in charge of executing the details and determine where the documents will be stored for quick and easy access.
Any updates to the will also need to be reflected in life insurance policies, since life insurance beneficiaries take precedence over what is specified in the will. Consider working with a trusted advisor such as an Erie Family Life insurance agent who can help with insurance and retirement planning.
Gather Financial Information
Speaking of retirement planning--it's important to discuss finances. Help your parent create a list that includes bank, benefits, pension, debt payment and other account information. You'll also need to have ready access to usernames and passwords for each account. Keep this information in a binder or notebook somewhere like a fire-resistant safe, along with items like tax files and car titles.
Although these conversations are not easy, planning for the future will be less intimidating and will make everyone better prepared for the changes ahead.