nursign hoFor the sake of these posts, I am going to post as if the person(s) we are talking about are your parents. Naturally they don’t have to be. It could be a family friend, other relative, etc. More specifically, I will be referring to ‘she’ as this is mostly coming through my experience with my mother.
Additionally, I am not a lawyer or doctor so make sure you double check all I talk about here with your legal or medical team. The laws in my state may be different than in your state. This is all meant to be a guideline, not a rule.
Talk……sounds simple right. But, how do you talk to your parents about what is going on in their private lives without sounding like you are interfering?
My mother was always a private person. We could discuss kids, work, home life, etc. but we really did not talk about what she wanted for the future. When she started to get older, it became necessary to discuss some very sensitive subjects. For me, the easiest way was just to ask. Depending on your family situation, this could be done at a family meeting or just one-on-one. I would definitely let them know if you are going to discuss this with all family members as your parent might want to be ready.
What did she want done when her health got so she couldn’t stay at home? Of course, she said this would never happen. I told her that I would like it if I could move her in with me as long as our health allowed it. She didn’t say yes or no, just ignored it. She did say she didn’t ever want to go to an ‘old folk’s home’. In her mind that was a place that people went to die. The very word made her think of the sights and smells that use to be in some facilities. I told her that nursing homes and/or assisted living facilities were much improved from what they were. She still insisted that she did not ever want to go to one. I promised her that if it was in my power, she never would go to one.
Where she wanted to be buried at? This was easy as my father was buried in a double plot that already had a headstone on but I live in a different state so I wanted to make sure she wanted to be brought “home”. It just made sense that she did but she flatly refused to make any funeral arrangements or discuss it at all. This is understandable as it means thinking about dying. I think the older you get, the harder that is.
Who did she want making decision for her if she could not make them herself? Since Mom had gone through a very serious illness previously, I suspected she would want me to do this as I knew her medical conditions but I did not want to assume something so important. Also, due to a health condition I had, I wanted to make sure who would be second in line.
Would she want to be kept alive if there was no hope? This one was very difficult. No one wants to think of this possibility. This took a lot of thought as to what no hope meant. To some it might mean if they were hooked up to a breathing machine, dialysis, feeding tube, etc. After much talking, we decided that if there no way she could live without all that machinery and no hope that she would ever be off it, that she would rather not be here. She had seen her own mother being kept alive during a fight with cancer when there was no hope and she didn’t want the family to go through that.
Who should make her financial decisions? Due to her earlier illness, I was already on her checking account and safety deposit box but I wanted this to be clear. I was not on her savings account, my oldest brother was.
Where all her financial papers are? Does she have multiple checking and savings accounts? Where are they? Does she have life insurance? Where is her health insurance through? Does she have both Medicare and secondary insurance or Medicaid? Does she have CDs, IRAs, etc? Are there any other assets that you need to know about? Where is the deed to the house, title to car, etc? What all automatic deposits or withdrawals come out of her account.
Of course, just talking about all this did not make it legal. We would have to go see a lawyer and get both financial and medical powers of attorneys, a living will and a regular will. More about that later.
The most important this is to start talking about this BEFORE it is too late.