My parents have been married for 60 years. In their retirement, Mom takes care of the cooking and cleaning; Dad is responsible for repairing things, driving the car for errands or road trips, and scheduling time with family and friends. My brother lives in another city 350 miles away while I live 7000 miles away in another country. They have their social circles, going to church and have lunches with their friends; and mom loves playing mahjong with her friends in their 80’s and 90’s.
Last year, everything changed when Mom fell two times within two weeks. She was in the hospital for a week. Her fall and her recovery drastically shifted each of their roles and daily lives. 92-year-old Dad stepped up as much as he could while taking care of Mom, but it took a toll on both of them, emotionally and physically.
Their estate plan was created 20 years ago. My brother and I were concerned about the status of their plan because if something happened to Dad, we wanted to know that Mom would be taken care of. When we brought this up, Mom became emotional because she felt like she was losing control. My brother took some time to stay with them for a few weeks, and was able to use what he has observed about their daily living to build a case for reviewing their estate plan. It took him a few months, but he eventually convinced them to take their first step to update their plan.
If you have aging parents, I’d love to encourage you to start this conversation early. We would like to offer a Longevity Planning Checklist as a tool for you to refer to when you are ready to start the conversation. This fillable PDF can be used to help aging family members picture their ideal vision for aging and increased care needs.
Money is a taboo subject for many. Our parents might not want to talk about it with us at all. As their children, we must be patient, sincere, and gracious as we communicate our support for our parents and their wishes. Even then, if they choose not to discuss how they would like their estate to be handled, we can know that we have done our best to hold the space for them to express their wishes in their own timing.