35 Questions to Ask Your Aging Parents
November is National Family Caregivers Month and I recently saw this list of 35 questions to ask your aging parents on the AARP web site. The answers to these questions can help give you a clearer picture of how your parents are doing, and they can help you to assess their needs. It is so important that adult children have this discussion with their parents and have a family meeting with their siblings in order to discuss how you’ll handle your parents as they age and require your assistance. Don’t wait until that phone call that one of your parents has taken seriously ill or has had a fall. No one ever wants to bring this topic up or press their parents on how they want their life handled when they can no longer handle their life themselves. However it is the elephant sitting in your living room that everyone knows will eventually rear its head and demand that you “take over.” If adult children get their parents’ documents in order and have a plan in place, it will be much easier when that day comes. These questions from AARP will help get you started.
Your parents home
1. Is your home still appropriate for you now that you’re getting older?
2. Can you manage the stairs, or would you do better on one level?
3. Does your home have any safety hazards?
4. Could simple modifications make it more convenient?
5. Should you start thinking about living somewhere else?
Your parents activities
6. Do you need help with household chores, such as cleaning, fixing meals or taking care of the yard?
7. Does poor eyesight interfere with your daily activities?
8. Can you always hear the telephone or a knock at the door?
Your parents mobility
9. Is driving difficult for you?
10. Do you have reliable transportation for shopping, medical visits, religious services and visits with family and friends?
Your parents health
11. What health problems do you have?
12. Are your prescriptions current?
13. Have you been to your doctor lately?
14. What has your doctor told you about your health?
15. Has your doctor or pharmacist reviewed all of your medications for side effects and potentially dangerous interactions?
16. Are you having any problems taking your medications?
17. Could you use help remembering what pills to take and when?
18. Can you pay for your medicines?
Your parents health Care
19. What kind of health insurance do you have, and do you have Medicare, Medicaid or a Medigap supplement policy?
20. Has your insurance plan paid your health care bills?
21. Do you have long-term care insurance or life insurance?
22. Have you paid your insurance premiums?
23. Would you like help with filling out forms, such as insurance claims?
24. Have you been told that insurance won’t cover medical tests or procedures that your doctor has ordered?
25. Do you have any questions about Medicare or Medicaid?
Your parents finances
26. What are your current and likely future bills?
27. Can you pay for what you need?
28. Do you need help getting government or pension benefits?
29. Do you need help with financial planning to make your money last?
30. Are your Social Security and pension checks deposited directly in the bank?
31. Is all of your financial information in one place?
32. Have you considered that you might need money down the road to help pay for assistance with everyday activities?
33. Do you have any bills you can't pay?
34. Do you have an estate plan and a will?
35. Do you have a living will and health care proxy?
Many times parents are reluctant to have this conversation, and finances can be an especially sensitive topic. You may need to be less direct with those questions as you start out, but it is essential for all adult children to open this line of communication. Don’t make the discussion about what “you are going to have to do for them” since no parent wants to feel like they are a burden. Make the discussion about what “they want to do and how you might be able to help them towards that end.” Most families get together every November for Thanksgiving, don’t pass up this opportunity to open up this discussion while you are all together.