There is never a perfect time to pre-emptively address an aging relative’s ability to care for themselves. However, there are signs and symptoms that may indicate it is time to start the conversation on aging:
- Changes in behavior, like loneliness, boredom, lack of interest or unkempt appearance
- Piles of unopened mail
- Neglected home repairs
- Weight loss
- Disinterest in socializing or learning
Once the decision has been made to discuss the topic with your loved one, it is important to take a nonthreatening approach and to be respectful and nonjudgmental if they have initial reservations. Like everyone else, your aging relatives may view themselves as an older version of their younger selves and may have a hard time accepting that they are no longer the caregivers. If you are positive and position it as an exploratory and educational exercise, your relatives may feel more comfortable opening up about their challenges — health, financial, home maintenance — and show an interest in reviewing and discussing these topics with you.
It is also important to keep in mind that these decisions are not made overnight. It may take several conversations over the course of a year or two before your relatives come to the conclusion that they need help or are ready to downsize. Until then, assisting your aging relatives in the following ways can help expedite the process later:
- Knowing where all of their important documents are located, like their will and/or living will, insurance policies, marriage and birth certificates, financial account information, passwords and property titles/deeds
- Having the contact information for their advisors (attorney, financial advisory and/or life insurance agent) and doctors
- Creating a list of the medication dosages and frequencies
- Having an itemized list of safety deposit box contents
- Knowing what their health insurance, Medicaid and Medicare will cover
- Developing a strategy for meeting their living and medical expenses
As part of developing the strategy, you will need to familiarize yourself with the nuances of retirement living options. Continuing care retirement communities provide residents with varying degrees of on-site health care assistance, from independent living all the way up to skilled nursing. They also create fun and engaging social and educational programs that allow residents to explore their passions, and maybe even find some new ones.
It’s never easy to face the fact that our loved ones get older, but with the right guidance, and the right resources, you can work together to make sure they are taken care of well into the future.
Dawn Trombetta is regional director of sales for Watermark Retirement Communities, one of the nation’s leading seniors’ housing innovators with 37 communities throughout the U.S., including The Fountains at Millbrook. To view the original article published on TriCorner News on February 11th, 2016, please click here.