Caring for Aging Parents: A Guide to Aging with Grace

By Lauren M. Doyle, Esq.

As we navigate the challenges that each new season of life brings, the topic of aging often remains shrouded in discomfort and denial. However, the reality is that preparing for our later years can bring profound peace of mind and dignity to the aging process. Understanding the need for comprehensive and proactive planning is paramount. Many families avoid discussions about aging, incapacity, and end-of-life care not realizing the potential consequences of being unprepared. It’s crucial to approach these conversations with empathy and respect, acknowledging the importance of aging with grace and preparedness.

It Starts with a Conversation: Tips for Talking About Care Planning

Initiating a conversation about the future should include a thorough checklist to ensure no aspect of planning is overlooked. Key areas to consider for yourself and for your family:

  • Medical Decisions: Who would make medical decisions for you if you were unable to talk to the doctor yourself? If for example, you had a stroke and could not express your medical wishes, who would do that for you?
  • Financial Management: Who would pay your bills, file your taxes, and manage your investments if you were unable to do so?
  • Property Ownership: If you passed away, where would your home and other assets go? Is your home and assets in a trust? If so, who is the trustee?
  • Legal Documentation: Ensure that all legal documents, including trusts, wills, power of attorney, and advanced healthcare directives, are current and accessible.
Lauren M. Doyle

I work with families daily to put the right legal documentation in place to provide the best care for aging parents. The best case scenario is when a family plans early when everyone is healthy and can thoughtfully put a solid plan in place that grows with the family over time. But more often than not, we support families when it’s too late – when a parent has died or no longer has the capacity to make a thoughtful plan or any plan at all. The only choice we have in those cases is to go to probate court – an expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally taxing process. I know it’s hard to think about end-of-life planning, but trust me it’s a lot more painful to go through probate court after losing a loved one. Your family’s failure to plan may one day become your burden to bear. Save yourself and your family from this burden and start the conversation with your family today.

Supporting Loved Ones with Alzheimer’s and Dementia

With the rise in Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, it is important to start planning early.  One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or dementia, and the number is only increasing. The Alzheimer’s Association highlights the necessity for proactive planning in the face of such diagnoses. Families are often unprepared for the complexity and demands of navigating dementia care, which can lead to increased stress and diminished quality of life for both the person living with the condition and their caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Association is a great resource for families supporting loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia and I often encourage my clients to take advantage of the many resources they have to offer.

Discussing and planning for aging is not about dwelling on the end of life but rather ensuring quality and dignity throughout its later stages. By embracing this journey with preparedness and love, we allow our aging parents—and ourselves—to face the future with confidence and peace.

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