The latest U.S. Census reports that there are 44.7 million over the age of 65 in the United States. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, seven out of ten of them will need three or more years of long-term care before they die. Unfortunately, most families are not prepared when they need to step in and help mom, dad in the face of a crisis or medical issue, and the consequences of being unprepared can be severe amongst families – causing chaos, confusion, and loss of money.

What’s more, a 2014 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that49 percent of retirees surveyed had retired earlier than they had planned. The survey found that many Americans find themselves retiring unexpectedly, and many retirees cited negative reasons for leaving the workforce, including 61 percent who cited health problems or disability.

Conversation Starters

The earlier you start talking about this the better. If you are having the discussion with a parent, always go in respecting the parent/child dynamic even through you may be 60. Consider this a conversation where you are trying to understand how a good friend, and someone you love is planning on spending the rest of their life. Some ways to do this include:

  • Ask mom and dad how they plan on spending their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Where do they want to live and how do they want to spend their time?
  • Request recommendations on how to approach estate planning. When did they do theirs and how did they decide who should be their advocate if one of them is unable to speak for the other?
  • Share a story of a friend or colleague who faced a difficult family health issue and talk about how your family might have handled the situation differently.

Unfortunately, you may have to wait for a pivotal event to happen before mom or dad are ready to have this discussion with you. Let me know if you have some additional suggestions on how to get this conversation started and I hope you will share which ideas helped your family.

For a free guide on how to organize your documents, accounts, and assets so that you can easily find them, or share them with a loved one should they ever need to help you, visit MemoryBanc.com/save.

Kay H. Bransford is the best-selling author of MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life. She has appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and Huffington Post, in addition to many television and radio programs to educate families, caregivers, and retirees on why getting organized is important to the well-being of every adult. The MemoryBanc process helps maintain family harmony, preserve privacy, and streamline the management and settlement of affairs in the event of incapacity or death. The company Kay founded, MemoryBanc, received an “Older-Adult Focused Innovation” award from AARP Foundation and has helped thousands of families since its launch in 2013.
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