As we get older, we are exposed to more and more of the harsh realities of life, including the fact that our parents are ageing with us. As our parent’s age, they rely on us more to help care for them. Even if your parents are only in their 50’s and 60’s, which is still a pretty active time in their lives, there are certain considerations that become more important and preparations that need to be made.
Understandably, it can be difficult to bring yourself to face these realities, but it’s in the best interest of your family. To help you look out for their well-being, we’ve outlined the three tough conversations every millennial should have with their parents, and how to do so gracefully.
Creating a Will & Trust
Estate planning is important to ensure that your parents’ property and finances are managed properly. However, according to research, only 32% of people have a will.
There’s really no easy way to approach the subject. You don’t want to wait until there’s a crisis to discuss their wishes should something happen to them. While they might be considered young and healthy, accidents can happen in life so you never truly know how much time someone has left to make these types of decisions.
To help the conversation go as smoothly as possible, and ensure that you’re being sensitive, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- When encouraging your parents to create a will and trust, it’s important that it doesn’t seem like it’s about how much they’re going to leave you, but instead how you can ensure that their wishes are followed through with.
- Before you have this discussion face-to-face, make sure you do your research so that you can help them navigate the process and help answer their questions. For starters, you should look into:
- Benefits of a will and a trust?
- What is probate?
- What is the process of establishing a will and a trust?
- Who are some reputable providers they can work with?
- Empathize with their sensitivity to the topic and highlight the benefits of planning ahead, versus the conditions that it would be put into action under.
- Reassure them that this is their decision and is not necessarily something they have to rush into, but should start thinking about.
Staying in the Same Place vs. Downsizing
No one wants to consider the thought of getting rid of their family home. In fact, according to AARP, 76% of Americans age 50 and older said they’d prefer to remain in their current residence, but only 46% believed that was a real possibility. This could be due to financial limitations, health concerns, or distance from family members who will need to take care of them.
Downsizing may be the best option for ageing parents who are facing financial limitations. While it’s not an easy decision to make, insufficient income may leave your parents with no alternative. However, having this conversation early on, before any dire decisions need to be made, can help them make keeping their home a reality if they so wish.
On the other hand, if they are under financial restraint due to retirement planning, etc. it may be an easy decision for them to make. It all depends on their unique situation.
In other cases, moving may be out of necessity due to health concerns. If one or both of your parents face a health issue, moving may be the best option.
Caring for their Long-Term Health
You may be responsible for overseeing your parents’ health as they age. Thus, it’s in both of your best interests to have this conversation before a parent experiences health issues.
Some of the things you need to discuss include:
- Who will care for them when they become physically dependent? This may be you, one of your siblings, or a professional caretaker.
- Do they want to remain at home or would they prefer to be in a facility when they can no longer care for themselves?
- Should an incident occur that makes them incapable of making decisions about their health, who do they want to make those decisions on their behalf? Would they want to be kept on life support?
- Does their current healthcare provider provide the flexibility they will need as they age?
- Should they consider increasing their insurance coverage?
How to Make Tough Conversations More Successful
Before you strike up these conversations, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Springing this conversation on them in the middle of a family gathering isn’t ideal. Therefore, schedule the meeting with your parents as well as any other family members who should be involved. This could be in-person or over video conference.
- These topics make for an especially delicate conversation that is emotional for both of you. It’s important that you listen to them and are supportive and respectful of what they want.
- Prepare ahead of time. Make a list of the topics you want to cover. Include information you can provide to them and some solutions that you think maybe best suited for their needs.
- Address your biggest concerns first. These conversations can be intense, so you want to make sure you cover your concerns in order of priority. This will help ensure you can discuss the most important matters. If things become too emotional, you may need to step back for a moment and pick up the conversation later.
- Keep in mind that at the end of the day it’s their life and their decision to make.
While it might be difficult and uncomfortable, having these conversations can help your parents have a better quality of life as they age.