Talking With Aging Parents: Are You Putting It Off?

The turkey’s eaten, the gatherings are done, and now you’re back in the real world, routine restored. But if you visited aging parents this year, you may have some questions lingering in the back of your mind—especially if you noticed they’re looking older or frailer than last time you saw them.

Do I have the financial information I need in case something happens? Do I have any necessary legal paperwork? Do they have living wills?

NPR addresses how to talk about these sorts of things in their story “How to Start Talking Details With Aging Parents.” One key piece of advice: Don’t put it off. Christopher John Farley, the editorial director of the Wall Street Journal‘s blogs, says he experienced a “tragic loss” as a result of waiting too long to talk about something important:

 [Y]ou shouldn’t be afraid to broach the subject. That happened to me with my grandmother, where for a long time I wanted to talk to her a bit about some of the family history; put it off and put it off because others relatives advised me, you know, don’t really have this conversation with her because it’ll make it seem as if she’s about to pass away. And finally, when I got around to talking to her, she wasn’t in the kind of state where she was able to remember, or discuss, the kinds of things I wanted to know about the family. So that was a tragic loss for me. And other people – I wouldn’t want to see them go through that ….

If you’ve had that type of experience, the advice probably hits home for you. As Farley says, “things can happen unexpectedly. They erode and suddenly, you’re left in the situation that you have to deal with.”What a comfort it would be to know you’d already done the prep work.

For an organizational tool that will help with gathering the information you need, you can download our free Personal Health Record here.

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