5 Tough Questions to Ask Aging Parents

  1. Do you have any serious health issues?
    Openly discuss with your parents any chronic illnesses or conditions that require recurring treatment. Request a list of medications and doctors’ contact information. If a parent has a history of prolonged physical illness or disability, you may want to conduct research into long-term care coverage options.
  2. What is your financial situation?
    If an elderly parent’s health suddenly takes a negative turn, out-of-pocket expenses can add up quickly. Discuss all sources of income and insurance coverage to determine how and if your parent might cover unanticipated medical treatment. Familiarize yourself with both their insurance coverage and financial assets at your parent’s disposal such as cash-value life insurance, savings, pension plans, stocks, IRAs and 401K plans. Income, assets and insurance impact Medicaid eligibility and Medicare options, available treatment and cost.
  3. Where would you prefer to live if you could no longer care for yourself?
    Is your parent comfortable with the prospect of living in a nursing home, or does he or she have plans to move in with a family member or friend should special care be required? Be open and direct about your ability to honor these wishes. If your parents need nursing home care, it’s important to know if their monthly income meets state eligibility requirements for Medicaid.
  4. Who do you trust to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated?
    Encourage your parent to officially ask someone to serve as his or her medical and financial proxy. Let all family members know the decision, and make sure the selected individual is listed on a health care power of attorney contract.
  5. What are your end-of-life wishes?
    Individual feelings vary regarding the prospect of having one’s life prolonged by the use of a ventilator or feeding tube. Know your parents’ views, and make sure their preferences are notated in a document such as a living will or advanced health care directive long before they no longer are capable of expressing informed consent.

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