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Talking to your (adult) children about aging

Talking to your (adult) children about aging


We, as parents, tend to protect our children when they are young. In my experience, we tend to try to continue that well into our children’s adulthood.  We don’t want to burden the kids with our issues or problems, even when we know that we could get help if we were more honest.


Don’t blame yourself; many of us were raised with the ethic of self-reliance and hard work. But as you age and are planning for the future or are experiencing challenges, that ethic starts to work against you. You may not be personally able to work hard enough to overcome the issues you face. You will need other’s help, so you need to be open about arrangements for your kids and discuss what they will have to be in charge of in the future.


But what do you need to have a real talk about so that your future can be brighter?


Health issues 


Family cultures are very different and vary widely.  Some families are open about health problems, but many are not.  Sometimes, it is simply an issue that is hard to talk about or embarrassing, like urinary problems. In other cases, it can be just denial.  Some issues are so scary that we don’t even want to admit them to ourselves, let alone anyone else!   But if and when the time comes to say, “My Doctor told me I have….” it is better to get that out to your loved ones than keep them in the dark.  Further, there is also the risk that your disease or illness can put your children at increased risk due to genetics.  The more information you can provide can help them in the future.


Your health care preferences


What are your thoughts on end-of-life care? If you have never thought about it, there are some great tools to help you have that conversation:  Five WishesAdvanced Directive.  If you were not able to make health care decisions because of a stroke or other medical emergency, your loved ones would be so thankful that they have your wishes written out. They would be able to make the decisions as you would without fear that they are not honoring your wishes or guilt if things go wrong.


Insurance and essential legal and financial documents


Make sure that your loved ones know if you have insurance policies that they would need to access in case of sudden illness. Do you have a will? A durable power of attorney? Long-term care insurance? These are important details to have in place, should an emergency arise.


Where you want to live.


Are you thinking about downsizing to a smaller place?  Are you thinking about moving to a warmer climate or closer to family?  All these are important considerations and should be discussed in the open. Often families have preferences and want to be in on the decision making. Family travel and holidays become more complicated with a distant living situation.


How to manage the changes that come with advancing age.


If you became ill and needed help with living at home, how you would like to do that? Do you have family or friends that could help?  If not, there are options.  Professional in-home caregivers can help you stay at home in cases of short-term or even long-term illness. There are some care tasks that are frankly easier done by care staff than family. Things like skin care and showers that may make family uncomfortable. Planning and having a conversation make the decisions simple when the time comes.



We may know our plans, but none of us know what the future will bring. Talk with those you love and those people who will be there with you if things get rough.  Be honest with your adult children; have some heart-to-heart discussions. You, and your loved ones, will feel better about whatever tomorrow brings.