Aging is inevitable for your senior parents.
Maintaining their good health is not.
Each year can be a mixed blessing with each passing birthday.
What response do you get if you ask your senior parents about their health?
If they tell you it is “fine” or even “terrific,” gently dig a little deeper.
Do not be surprised to discover that your senior parents have a few chronic conditions and are on any number of meds.
A recent article in Forbes titled “How Healthy Are Your Aging Parents Right Now, Truthfully?” says that failure to recognize the health risks of senior parents is a recipe for disaster.
In fact, the more health issues your senior parents have, the better the odds of a future health crisis.
And failing to plan is planning to fail.
For example, doctors may have told your senior parents to alter their diets if overweight.
What if your senior parents ignored this advice?
Continued weight gain may have turned into unhealthy obesity, which then presented as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, or other related ailments.
Left unchecked by your senior parents, you will have a front-row seat as their health declines.
Eventually, you get that middle-of-the-night call from paramedics rushing a senior parent to the hospital ER.
How could this unfortunate scenario have been prevented, especially when senior parents frequently refuse to acknowledge that anything could go wrong?
Naturally, they think they will remain the same for 20 years.
Regardless of what your senior parents think, most of us will not manage to live independent, healthy lives until the age of 100.
Consequently, this denial works until the inevitable emergency occurs.
At that point, the family members scramble to address getting care, what to do with a senior parent who cannot live alone anymore, and how the senior parent will pay for their needs.
And it is extremely stressful making these decisions under pressure with no advance planning.
At the same time, it is frightening for a senior parent to consider planning for the possibility of needing daily care from others.
Given all of this denial (by both you and your senior parents), here are four key matters to address right without delay:
- Determine what your senior parents would want if they did need daily or frequent care;
- Identify the financial resources your senior parents have available to pay for things, such as home care, assisted living, or another living arrangement where care is available;
- Discuss their preferences regarding where they want to live; and
- Ensure their estate planning documents are up to date and clear when it comes to their future care wishes.
These can be unpleasant conversations and tasks.
Nevertheless, there is great power and peace of mind when senior parents and their adult children are prepared for any future personal, health care, and financial challenges.
Advice to adult children?
Remember to treat your parents with respect.
After all, your children are watching.
Reference: Forbes (April 30, 2023) “How Healthy Are Your Aging Parents Right Now, Truthfully?”