By Kevin Theissen
Dan Taylor faced a difficult situation after his father suffered a stroke at age 72 and couldn’t live alone. He was responsible for looking after him and had no idea how to proceed. He was overwhelmed by the plethora of options and was determined to find a place where his father “would be treated with dignity and respect.”
His experience moved him to write The Parent Care Conversation, a book that helps parents and their children converse meaningfully about long-term care issues they may face in the future. It includes strategies for handling six key challenges one must confront when dealing with aging parents: money, property, house, professional care, legacy, and the “Big Picture.”
Taylor notes the house conversation can be emotional. The objective is to get a fix on how your parents feel about their ability to keep living where they are now. For example, is their home already a physical or financial burden? Do they see it becoming one?
If so, what is the preferred next step? Staying, but with help, or selling and moving? And, if the latter, to where: a smaller home, retirement community, or perhaps an assisted-living facility?
The property conversation, which deals with personal possessions, also poses interesting choices and boils down to these three: Make a will or create a trust for disposing of the property after they’re gone; start giving it away now; or do nothing.
Most people resort to the third option.
“As parents, doing something — whether it is choice one or two or a combination of both — is tough physically, mentally, and emotionally. The default option of doing nothing is the easier route for everybody, at least in the short run. But, in the long run, it is the hardest and most painful for all concerned,” said Taylor.
“However extreme or overboard some of their concerns and anxieties may seem to you, don’t minimize or dismiss them. To your parents, these worries are substantial and very real. Your role is to help them transform these challenges into a set of realistic possibilities for achieving a positive experience,” he added.
This is a book about how to make plans with some of the most important people in your life — your parents. It’s about having the important conversation.
Kevin Theissen is the owner of HWC Financial in Ludlow.