It’s natural for adult children to put off certain conversations with their aging parents. No one really wants to face that their loved ones are growing older. But the reality is that no one lives forever, and medical emergencies can happen in an instant. Your aging parent could suffer a stroke or be diagnosed with dementia, leaving their care your responsibility.

October is National Long-Term Care Planning Month. This month, older adults are encouraged to think through a plan to help meet the costs of long-term care. It’s also a great month to sit down with your aging parents and discuss their wishes. If you don’t know where to start, here are four important conversations to have with them before it’s too late.

Where do you want to live and how do you plan to cover the costs? 

The first conversation you need to have centers around where your parents would prefer to age. Do they plan to stay in their own home for as long as they can? Are they willing to receive help at home from a senior home care company, should they need it? Would they rather move to a senior retirement community and when would they make such a move? Are there any other factors to consider regarding their ability to live alone, such as dementia or chronic health conditions? Discuss their ability to live independently and their willingness to accept help when you sense it’s time. Also discuss their plans to pay for long-term care and if they have a long-term care insurance policy.

Who is your power of attorney?

Another important conversation to have with your aging parents is to know who they have designated as their power of attorney (POA) for health and finances. It could be the same person, or they could have chosen to designate separate people. The POA should know that they’ve been appointed and feel confident that they know what your aging parents would want. As difficult as it may be to ask, the POA needs to know what measures your aging parents would prefer should they become incapacitated. Do they want to be resuscitated, on a feeding tube, or life support, and for how long? Regardless of who is the POA, it’s important for all adult children to know the wishes of their parents. This ensures that there is no contention when a critical decision needs to be made on your parents’ behalf.

Where can I find your legal documents?

While you’re discussing POA, you also need to learn where your parents keep their important legal documents, including their will or trust. While you don’t necessarily need to know all the details, you should verify that they have a legal will or trust. Without one, their estate will be distributed by strict rules according to the state in which they reside. If your parents are not organized, now is the time to help them. There should be one place where you can find their will or trust, and other legal documents, such as home deed, insurance information, social security card, birth certificate, and the like. The National Institute on Aging has a list of important papers older adults should have in order. Some older adults prefer to put all this information together in a binder and give a copy to each adult child. Others prefer to leave it in a safe. Either way, it’s important that you know where you can find the information when you need it.

What funeral arrangements have you made?

Finally, you need to have a conversation about funeral arrangements. Ask where they prefer to be buried or cremated. Do they already have a plot? What else have they prepaid? Where would they like their service to be? Who would they prefer to speak at the service? Do they have a favorite quote or spiritual verse that they would like to be remembered by? Do they have any songs that they would like to be played during their service? If this conversation is too difficult, you can ask your parents to write down their wishes and put it in a safe space for you after they pass.

Senior Living Solutions is here to help you navigate these important conversations. We can help you determine what level of care your parents may need should they decide to pursue senior living communities. If they prefer to age-in-place, we can point you to qualified senior home care agencies. In addition, we provide recommendations of vetted attorneys who are experts in estate planning. Let us make sure you have covered all your bases so that you are not caught off guard in the event of a crisis. Contact us today by calling 501-650-3013 and make an appointment for your free consultation.