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Discussing Tough Topics

Some families find it difficult to talk about subjects like finances, living wills, or funeral pre-arrangements with an elder. DC caregivers share their experiences and why it's important to talk with the elder before there's a need.
  • I don't discuss finances with my mother because we're in financial difficulty. I don't discuss what needs to be paid or hasn't been paid because I know that would upset her.
  • You can't speak about such matters to someone who is sick already. It's too depressing. I'm not comfortable, but I don't know how to bring up the subject. I don't want to upset my husband more than he is.
  • We discussed some things before my wife became ill and some after, but she wouldn't remember.
  • Fortunately, my wife and I are not a couple that is afraid to speak of the after life. We have discussed it and done something about it. We have pre-arranged our funerals. I am her power of attorney. We have joint accounts. I'm glad we did these things because it takes the load off me and off others should I become ill. Thank God we had the vision to do this ahead of need.
  • I have comprehensive knowledge of my mother's affairs. As her only child, I don't have other siblings to interfere with any decisions I make.

Practical Tips: Here are some practical tips from DC caregivers on how to get the information you need to manage your elder's affairs.
  • Talk to your elder and ask what his or her preference would be in the event he or she becomes too frail or ill to live independently.
  • Obtain the services of an attorney to draft legal documents such as wills, powers of attorney, or other advance directives.
  • Secure as much information from the elder as possible ahead of need.
  • Make a file for important documents and medical information such as health and medical history, medications, doctors' contact information, social security card and birth certificate, health insurance cards, emergency contacts.
  • Keep all medical "Explanation of Benefits" statements for at least 15 months.
  • Focus on the present but plan for the future.
  • Keep the elder's insurance cards in a convenient place.
Part of the Senior Service Network Supported by the D.C. Office on Aging