Following are 10 questions to ask your elderly parents.
1. What are their end of life desires? Make sure they have filled out an Advance Directive stating what their desires are. Do they want to have dialysis, a feeding tube, a ventilator? Do they want CPR if their heart stops? This does not have to be done by an attorney. I have forms in my office and clinics and hospitals have them, too. Make sure the person they name to be their health care power of attorney knows what their desires are.
2. Do they have a will or living trust? These documents designate what happens to their possessions and money after they pass away.
3. Do they have a durable power of attorney? This document designates who will take care of their affairs if they are unable to decide for themselves due to either mental or physical incapacity. They can designate one person to handle health decisions and another for financial decisions, or it can be the same person.
4. Do they have long term care insurance? If so, read the policy to make sure you understand it. Be sure you know what it covers and when it starts to cover care. Some have a 30, 60 or even 90 day waiting period. Make sure you know how to get the clock ticking on waiting periods. Call the company if you have questions.
5. Are their documents up to date? Make sure you have copies of the most current documents and that they are up to date. Review them once a year.
6. Where are their important documents? It doesn’t do any good for your parents to have these documents locked up where they can’t be found in an emergency. If they are in a safe, make sure someone in the family can get into that safe.
7. Do they have a financial advisor? It is important for at least one family member to know who is advising your parents regarding their finances. This will allow someone in the family to access this advisor in case of an emergency.
8. If your parents can no longer take care of themselves, have they thought about other living options? Start this discussion before a crisis hits. Take them around to visit options. Do they want to move closer to their children/grandchildren? Do they want to stay in the town they live in currently? Give them the opportunity to shop around before the needs arise. It’s harder to make hasty decisions in an emergency. I have a current list of all senior housings in Douglas County available.
9. Do your parents visit the doctor regularly? Ask them to provide you with a list of the doctors they see. Also, a current list of medications would be helpful.
10. Do you and your parents understand the medications they are taking and why? Many seniors end up with many medications. Be sure they know what they are taking, how often and for what condition.