End-Of-Life Decisions To Discuss With Your Parents Now
Conversations about end-of-life decisions always come too soon for comfort. Often, having these conversations with your parents can feel surreal because your parents look so vibrant, healthy, and mentally strong when you have them. But the truth is that that is when you need to have them—when your parents are still in the right state of mind to make decisions that would be hard for them to make if they had dementia, if they were living in a retirement home, or if they were experiencing other circumstances that could affect their judgment. If you want to relax and enjoy your parents golden years with them, you first need to get a few tough conversations out of the way. Here are end-of-life decisions to discuss with your parents now, while they’re still healthy and present.
Do they have a current will?
Make sure your parents A) Have a will and B) That it is up to date. Circumstances change. People get divorced or estranged. Some of the things your parents put in their original will may no longer reflect what they really want.
Where is the original document?
You should know where the original document is (if they want you to know). Once they pass, some individuals with less-than-good intentions may go looking for it, hoping to alter it, before anyone else sees it.
Who is the agent of your health?
Should your parents be in a condition in which they cannot make decisions about their own health, particularly regarding life support, do they have an assigned agent of health to make those decisions? Who is it? What is his phone number?
Who has the power of attorney?
Should your parent be in a condition in which they cannot make decisions regarding their estate, have they assigned somebody the power of attorney? Who is that? How can you contact that person?
What should you do if they are incapacitated?
It’s a good idea to have your parents write up a clear list of directives, should they become incapacitated. Who do they want you to notify? What documents should you pull up? Where are those? Which hospital would they like to stay at? What affairs should someone attend to while they can’t attend to their own?
How do they feel about assisted living?
Now, while your parents are of stable mind, talk to them about where they’d like to live, should they need around-the-clock care. Do they want to stay in their home, and hire a live-in nurse? Would they like to move to an assisted living home? Once they’re at the place of needing that care, they might be too stubborn or mentally weak to make the right decision, so have them make it now. Get it in writing if you can.
Do they have money set aside for their healthcare?
Have your parents allocated a certain portion of their assets to cover their healthcare as they age? In-home nurses, medical equipment, and prescriptions can be very expensive.
Who should you contact about the division of assets?
Is there someone who has all of your directives, necessary phone numbers, bank account codes etc. needed to divide up their assets? Who is that person and how can you get in touch with them?
Are their beneficiaries current?
Make sure your parents’ beneficiaries are up to date for things like life insurance policies, pensions, and investments.
Can you have a list of legal names and numbers?
Have your parents put every name and phone number you may need should they become very ill, incapacitated, suffer from dementia, or pass away, on one document.
Do they have a calendar for benefit plans?
Sit down with your parents and look over the benefit plans they should be taking advantage of like VA benefits and social security. Create a calendar of reminders so that you apply for and renew these on time.
Extended home care insurance
Look into extended home care insurance. Many healthcare policies only cover short-term home care (like after a major surgery) but not long-term. This can get very expensive if you have an elderly parent who needs home-care for 10 or 15 years.
When it’s time to stop driving
While your parent is of sound mind, ask him when he thinks you should take away his driver’s license. He can tell you symptoms to look for and conditions under which he knows he should not drive. When that time occurs, he probably won’t want to hand over his license. So have that conversation now.
Unfortunately, there are con artists who specifically target the elderly. Do your own research on those scams now, and sit down with your parent and tell them what to look out for.
What to keep private from home nurses
It’s common for elderly patients to become very close to their home nurses, but some home nurses can convince elderly patients to buy them expensive gifts, and even include them in their wills. Have a conversation with your parents about what not to share with home nurses.