Important Family Conversations Throughout the Ageing Process

Matt Del Vecchio is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA).  He is the founder and president of Lianas Services, a Canadian company that assists families and their senior loved ones with retirement home search and transition support.  He is also the host of “life Unrehearsed”, a weekly radio show on CJAD800 which can be heard every Sunday at 4:00 pm.

There was a common theme amongst all of them – be proactive when it comes to the more important conversations you need to have with your family and loved ones.  The holiday season may be a good time to consider such conversations if done in the right context and approached with respect.

Adult children may have different points of view concerning topics related to their parent’s life transitions.  As a result, parents must clearly communicate their wants and desires to all their children to avoid the guesswork and assumptions.

What types of conversations are most essential particularly when we’re dealing with ageing parents?   Here’s a list of some of the more important questions that should be discussed as we transition into the different phases of the ageing process:

Estate Planning

  • Is my will up to date?
  • Should I consider getting a power of attorney? (Answer: yes!!!)  Should I also consider a mandate of protection?  (Answer: highly recommended).
  • Does a loved one know the contact information for your key advisors should you become incapacitated? (i.e. financial advisor, notary, lawyer, accountant, trusted friend, liquidator/executor, etc.)
  • Should I get a pre-arranged funeral?

Financial Planning

  • Have I expressed my financial goals with my financial advisor and any other confidants?
  • Am I confident there will be enough money to meet my desired lifestyle?
  • Should I consider an early inheritance for my children so they can pursue a formal education; make a down payment on a house; help them start a business; or whichever cause you think will benefit them.

Living Accommodations and Levels of Care

  • Is home ownership becoming too much of a burden?
  • If so, would I prefer to downsize into a townhouse, condominium or a retirement home with amenities and services?
  • Have I expressed the ideal living environment should I require higher levels of care? (i.e. from the comfort of my home or would it make more sense to move into a senior community that offers a higher level of care while reducing the burden on my caregivers and children).
  • Are there particular family members (spouse, children) that will take on the role of primary caregivers? Are they aware of this?

Legacy and Bucket List

  • What type of legacy do I want to leave for my family, friends and loved ones?
  • Am I taking action NOW to make that happen?
  • Have I communicated my bucket list to loved ones and am I taking initiatives to make them a reality? Hint: put the list in writing and prioritize them.  Update it yearly.

These are just a few of the important questions that should be answered.  The next challenge is how to begin the conversation.  We tend to procrastinate when it comes to these sensitive topics. However, one needs to look at the repercussions if you put it off and don’t have these conversations.

Conversation starters could be “I had a friend whose mother …..” or “I was talking to my kids about (insert topic here).  Mom and dad, what do you think about….?” Or “Mom, dad, I heard your good friend just (insert topic).  Is that what you would have done?”

Deal with the inevitable while you are of sound mind and try not to put it off.  Your family and your loved ones will thank you for it.

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