Brandon Cabaniss, CFP®

Of course we all want to live as independently as possible for as long as possible. The most opportune time to have a conversation about caregiving is before you actually have to have it – before the fall, the signs of dementia become obvious or before the lack of care for the home becomes scarily apparent.

Once you are in the midst of a crisis or a huge and sudden change, you cannot think clearly and conversations are harder. If you are in a time crunch or an accident has occurred, asking your loved one what they really want can put everyone in a tough spot. Sometimes you find yourself making tough decisions without their input which can lead to discord. Think about why you want to start the conversation. Are you concerned for their safety? Have you researched options and solutions for their care? It’s important to have a few solutions available to discuss. Give them a few choices and ask for their input.

Think about risk management.

Why do we buy insurance? To ward off catastrophic loss, correct? We plan ahead because we don’t want to suffer loss on top of loss.

It is important to have a conversation with your loved one that is aging or lives alone. Ask your parents how they envision their later stages of retirement. Do they want to be nearby? Find out if they feel like they have longevity at their home. Is it one level or many? Is it enjoyable to maintain or burdensome? Do they have the community and care nearby that they may need in the future? Who is the designated person(s) to step in, if needed from a financial and healthcare perspective? Some language you may use to begin the conversation are:

Use “I” statements. Saying “You need to …” or “You just have to …” puts people on the defensive. Instead, try saying: “I am concerned about …” “I want to help you with …” “I’m wondering about …” “I’d like to support you in …”
(source: AARP)

Make sure you think about who the best person may be to start the conversation with your loved one? Is it you or another family member? Do you need a third party with you like a financial advisor, lawyer or friend? What is the best result that could come from this conversation? 

We often work with clients at different stages of caregiving. We are here to guide them in the conversation and work through the topics, financial and other, they should address. Next week, I will discuss the stages of care, share some resources and  review a checklist of topics you may want to cover if you are in the caregiving role.


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