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Asking the Right Questions

Many seniors hope to stay as independent as they can for as long as possible.  Naturally, this is often a good thing.  Yet, there are times when aging parents could use our help but do not want to ask or even admit that help is needed.  In these instances, the questions we ask can be vital to better understanding the situation at hand.

Here are some of the types of question to consider if concerns are surfacing.

 

Household:

How are you getting around the house?
Are the steps leading to the second level manageable or have they become a safety issue?
Could you use outside help with household chores?
Has the yard work become too much for you to handle?
Has your home become too big to care for?
Have you considered downsizing to a smaller house or moving to an environment where assistance is readily available?

 

Health:

How do you feel?  Do you have any health concerns?
Have you recently had a checkup?  What did the doctor say?
Do you have problems taking your medication?  Do you understand what the medication is for?  Do you have trouble paying for your medication?
How is your eyesight?  Have you discussed eye concerns with your ophthalmologist?
Can you hear me clearly?  Do you have difficulty making out what people are saying?
How is your memory?  Do you find yourself forgetting important details?
Are you comfortable driving?  Has night driving become tricky?  Have you had any near misses or accidents?
Do you need help getting to medical appointments?
Are you eating balanced meals?  Are you eating enough?  Is your diet mainly made up of unprocessed, healthy choices?  Can you afford to buy foods that are good for you?

 

Monetary:

Do you have money concerns?
Are you making bill payments on time?
Do you need help organizing your financial affairs?
What banks or institutions hold your assets?  May I have a list of the accounts and other pertinent information in the event something happens?
Do you work with a financial advisor, lawyer, or accountant?  May I have the contact information?
Do you have a will?  Living will?  Power of attorney?  Living trust?  If so, where are the documents?
Are the beneficiaries on your insurance policies and other accounts current?
Do you have a safety deposit box?  Where is it located?  Where do you keep the key?

 

Funeral:

Do you have specific requests regarding a memorial service (e.g., readings, eulogy, music)?
Is there a funeral home you prefer?
Do you have a burial plot?  If not, where do you want to be laid to rest?
Do you want to be cremated?
Do you have grave marker or urn preferences?

 

Some families are more comfortable than others when it comes to sharing personal information.  Clearly, we do not want to overstep respectable boundaries.  However, neither should we turn our eyes to valid concerns.

For additional information regarding candidly communicating with aging parents, go to http://www.caregiving.org/pdf/resources/Aging%20Parent-Guide_5thEd.pdf

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