The 9 Conversations You Need to Have With an Aging Loved One
When Crisis Strikes, Will You Be Ready?
"The night will come. You will get a call from your parent, sibling, or friend of the family. Your mother or father has fallen, and is being transported to the hospital. Suddenly, your adrenaline starts to flow. Think! What do I do next? You get out of bed and go to the hospital. Or, if you live too far away, you call someone you trust to go to the hospital with your parent. Whatever you do, you know you can’t let your parent be at a hospital without assistance. Even if both of your parents are still living, the spouse needs support and comfort. Decisions have to be made and someone needs to be the source of clear thought and reason. Are you prepared to be your loved one’s keeper?"
The 9 Conversations
There are nine conversations that you inevitably have to have with your parents or senior adults for whom you will be responsible. The sooner we begin the conversations with our parents the better.
1. Driving: Taking Away the Keys
While my parents are still capable of driving, we have had the conversation of what happens when they cannot drive. We have already discussed the need to
hire a driver 2-3 days a week when they no longer drive on their own. I have shared with them that a time will come when I say, “No, you cannot drive anymore.” Because we have had the conversation, it will be easier to make that decision.
2. Physicians & Primary Medical Care: Don’t Know Much About “ology”
Most seniors have several “ologists.” Cardiologists, rheumatologists, oncologists, etc. Many do not even have a primary care doctor. Make sure Mom or Dad is seeing a physician who has experience working with the senior population.
3. Medication: Just a Spoonful of Sugar
Someone should be aware of all the medications that a senior takes. It is important to have the conversation with your parents about over-the-counter and prescription drugs they are taking. Have them add you to the list of people who can talk to the pharmacist about their medications.
4. Diet & Nutrition: You Are “How” You Eat
Talk to your parents about what they had for lunch and supper. Check the refrigerator whenever you get a chance. Not that you are looking for something wrong but, “I’m kind of hungry, what do you have to eat.” Have a clean out each week, casually making a list of things to replace, and throwing away food that could cause them harm. Make sure the kitchen is clean and that there are supplies available, well marked, and that the senior is using good meal preparation techniques.
5. Cleanliness & Hygiene: Clean Up Your Act
Cleanliness is one of the easiest aspects of your parents’ lives to evaluate because you can, for the most part, simply observe. Spending a little bit of time around them and walking through their home can give you a general idea of how well they are doing in this area. Are they maintaining good hygiene? Have you noticed any excessive body or breath odor? Does the shower appear to have been used recently? These questions may seem very elementary, but they are an important part of being aware of changes in habits.
6. Personal Emergency Device: One Fall Away From “Dependence”
No one living alone after the age of 65 should be without a wrist or necklace pendent emergency call system. Anyone at any time can fall, but those over 65 will take longer to recover. Recovery is quicker if the person is found in a relatively short period of time.
7. Living Options: When They Can’t Safely Live at Home
“Promise me you will never put me in one of those homes.” That language is not allowed in our conversations. It is the most selfish thing that anyone can ever say. What most parents do not think about is that is that they are asking you to give up your entire life to coordinate their household. At some point, I will say, it’s time to move; I can no longer care for you at home.
8. Finances: Put Your Money Where Your Life is
Someone must know the financial conditions of your parents. If they do not feel comfortable sharing the information with their children, they should have an accountant or attorney who will be responsible for paying bills and assuring the resources for their care. Nursing homes cost around $200 per day. Home care is more than that.
9. Health Insurance: Learning the A, B, C’s ... & D of Medicare
You should be aware of health insurance coverage. Medicare Part A, B, C and D. Yes there is a C; however, very few people have it. Many seniors have not signed up for Part D for pharmacy and can save $1000’s each year by getting in on the best program. Have they signed up for a Medicare HMO, which can increase their out of pocket expenses? Medicare does not pay for long-term care.
Are You Ready?
Each year, millions of Americans come face-to-face with the daunting task of providing for the care of an aging parent. Unfortunately, many find themselves ill-informed and unprepared. This reversal of roles, from care receivers to care providers, is often filled with conflicting emotions that are extremely tough to cope with amidst this enormous responsibility. Moreover, clashing opinions can[Scott-Middleton-Parent-Talk-Sheet Page 2] quickly leave siblings and other family members at an impasse during a time when unity is crucial.
For these newly challenged care providers, the tide has turned. For those who don’t know what signs to look for, this can happen without notice. As almost all of us will face this dilemma at some point, Parent Talk is a must read source of expertise and information for any adult child. Throughout this book, the author draws on his years of experience in senior healthcare to assist you in anticipating your parent’s decline, understanding the best care options, and making sound decisions. Come gain the invaluable insights revealed through The Nine Conversations as you become your loved one’s keeper.