Communication is Key to Elder Care Planning

By: Audrey Adelson

August 2015


Most people don’t think about elder care until a crisis arises such as when an aged parent has a stroke or has a fall that results in an injury requiring rehabilitation. The reality is that when a crisis arises is not the time to begin thinking and talking about the elder care planning process.


Experts recommend that lines of communication between adult children and their parents should be opened over time. It is wise to include these delicate conversations as a part of retirement planning. When discussing issues with your parents, it is important to be sensitive to their feelings and keep in mind that some of the topics may be difficult to talk about. Use open-ended questions to give them room to share their views with you. Avoid bringing up the past or any unresolved issues that could interfere with the significance of this conversation. There are resources available to help you with these types of discussions. Some tips on preparing for elder care include:


  1. Discuss what remaining independent means and looks like with your parents and how their health will affect this moving into their older years.
  2. Talk about the different stages of aging and how it impacts each of you.
  3. What does location mean to your parents with regards to proximity to their friends and family?
  4. Discuss various housing options and preferences.
  5. Have a plan for when your parents can no longer stay in their home.
  6. Who do your parents trust to make decisions for them when they can no longer make rational decisions for themselves?
  7. Living wills, power of attorney, and wills should be done early and with someone they trust. If they are not, seek professional assistance from an elder care attorney.
  8. Be sure these documents are understood by family and that family knows where to locate them.
  9. Discuss the issues of personal and medical caregiving with your parents and siblings before a crisis arises.
  10.  As a family, discuss your understanding of parental financial status including insurance, resources, and needs prior to a crisis.
  11. What needs to be done in order to satisfy everyone and where do compromises need to be made?
  12. Do you know your parents’ medical history and is it documented anywhere?
  13. What are your parents’ future health prognoses?
  14. Are you familiar with your family’s health history and is it documented anywhere?
  15. Be sure you have the names and contact information for your parents’ health professionals.
  16. Are you aware of any medications your parents take or any allergies they have?

If you have any questions about this article or adult caregiving you may contact Mary Ellen Nessmith, Dependent Care Program Specialist at (404) 727-4177 or Dependent Care Resource & Referral (BrownRichards & Associates, E4 Healthcare Company) at 800-537-2153.