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Essential Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents

Healthcare | June 10, 2024

A senior woman discussing critical healthcare information with her daughter.

Having difficult conversations with your aging parents regarding end-of-life documentation and care can be uncomfortable and challenging. While you may want to avoid this discussion altogether, it’s critical that your family is prepared to carry out your loved one’s wishes in case an unexpected injury or illness hospitalizes them.

By planning in advance, you can avoid the uncertainty and anxiety that comes with not knowing what your loved ones would want. To help ease the discomfort of approaching this conversation, we’ve put together a list of essential questions to ask your aging parents. Starting with the right questions is key to understanding and fulfilling their medical, financial, housing, and end-of-life wishes. Keep reading to discover what you should ask your aging parents, making this process more manageable and beneficial for everyone involved.

When Should You Begin Conversations with Your Aging Parents?

While you may feel it’s too early to broach this topic with your loved ones, consider reaching out to your parents to see if they have thought about getting their affairs in order. Chances are they’ve already considered the steps they need to take to ensure their wishes are met. 

When determining the right time to bring up end-of-life care and documentation, check if your loved ones meet any of these conditions. If at least one of the following is true, you should plan to speak with them about finalizing a care plan and securing their legacy.

  • They are 65 years of age or older.
  • They have a serious health condition or a history of serious health conditions.
  • Their spouse or partner has recently passed away.
  • They have recently had a health or safety scare.

Questions to Ask Your Senior Parents

From legal documentation to housing, there are several critical areas that you need to address with your senior loved one. Let’s take a look at each important topic and what questions you should ask your parents to ensure their wishes are met.

Legal Documentation

If your loved one ends up hospitalized due to an unexpected illness or accident, you will need to ensure you have the right legal documentation to make healthcare decisions for them. You should also ensure they have an up-to-date will or living trust in case the worst happens.

Questions to ask your senior parents to ensure their legal documentation is in order includes:

  • Do you have a medical power of attorney?
  • Do you have a financial power of attorney?
  • Do you have an up-to-date will or living trust?
  • Where do you keep important documentation?
  • Do you have an estate planning lawyer who handles your documents?

It’s important that you know how to access these legal documents in case of an emergency. 

Health and Wellness

As your loved ones age, you may need to be more involved in their health and wellness. Whether you’re helping your parents understand the medications they take every day or working with their healthcare team to ensure proper treatment, you are sure to have more responsibility for their health and safety.

Asking questions about your parents’ lifestyle, well-being, and capability to care for themselves can go a long way in preventing accidents, injuries, and avoidable illnesses. Questions to consider asking include:

  • What doctors and specialists do you see on a regular basis and what is their contact information?
  • What is the current list of medications you take and what are they used to treat?
  • Do you have any difficulties taking your medications every day?
  • Do you experience trips, falls, or other accidents at home? If so, how frequently?
  • Do you get out of the house for exercise and movement every day?
  • Do you feel confident in your ability to drive to appointments by yourself?
  • How often are you eating? What types of food do you eat every day? 

While many seniors would be grateful for the extra attention, some may be critical of oversharing sensitive medical details. Try to frame your questions as a way to help them continue living their ideal lifestyle for as long as possible without the need for medical intervention.

Finances

Money can be a sensitive topic to discuss with your loved ones. For years, your loved ones were in charge of managing day-to-day finances. At a certain point, it may be time for them to hand the reins over to someone else.

Whether your loved ones just need some simple assistance or help with everything, it’s important to approach your loved ones the right way. Consider asking these questions to get a better understanding of your loved ones’ financial situation.

  • Do you have a financial advisor or wealth manager you currently work with?
  • Have you saved enough to live comfortably throughout your retirement?
  • Have you paid off all outstanding debts (house, care, credit cards)?
  • Have you enrolled in Social Security and Medicare?
  • Have you put money aside for senior housing or long-term care?

Similar to health and wellness, many seniors can be protective over their financial information. If your loved ones don’t want to share these details, be sure to respect their boundaries. Let them know that you want to ensure they’re taken care of for the rest of their lives, and in order to help, you need to know where they stand financially.

Senior Housing

Another important conversation to bring up with your aging parents involves their living arrangements. While many seniors desire to age in place, there may come a time when an independent living community or assisted living facility is the right choice for them. It’s recommended to start this conversation early so your loved ones can see what options are near them and determine their housing preferences. Questions to ask include:

  • If you could no longer take care of yourself, where would you prefer to live?
  • Where do you plan to live if your need for assistance increases?
  • Do you know what senior living options are available?
  • Do you want to live nearby or move to another city or state?
  • Do you have the resources to move into an assisted living facility? If not, do you know if you qualify for government assistance?

Senior living has changed rapidly over the years and your parents may not know what options they have available. From independent living communities to assisted living and memory care facilities, there are options available across the country to meet your loved ones’ needs.

Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out for Help

Better understanding your parents’ end-of-life desires can help you be better prepared to ensure their wishes are carried out. By asking these questions, you should have a solid baseline to ensure their needs are met.

Don’t fear that you must do this on your own. There are professionals ready to help you navigate the aging process so that you can ensure your loved ones enjoy their golden years. National Church Residences is here to help you find the best senior housing option for your loved ones. Unsure about where to start? Find out which senior living options are in your area or give us a call at 844-465-6063 to talk to one of our friendly staff members today.

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