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How to Discuss Aging in Place With Your Children

Before moving on to the topic at hand, let’s first consider this information, brought to us by the U.S. Census Bureau and the AARP:

76 million babies were born in the U.S. from 1945 to 1964. That means that the population known as “Baby Boomers” are now between the ages of 71 and 52. Many of them who are poised to retire are choosing to age in place, rather than downsize or move into a retirement community.

The game-changer is that this group of Americans is regarded as the most well educated and physically fit older generation that this country has ever seen. Millions of them are homeowners and millions more are taking care of their own aging parents. The growing trend of aging in place favored by the Boomers may be directly linked to experiences with their own parents. In addition to being more affordable, caring for elderly parents gives adult children peace of mind. Furthermore, the older parents are usually more comfortable and happy when their adult children are looking after them.

That being said, it is easy to understand why the next wave of seniors is gravitating towards staying put. If this sounds familiar, and you picture yourself doing the same, there’s no time like right now to discuss the options and concerns with your own children.

Here is a list of conversation starters:

  • Where to live and for how long?
  • Would home modifications such as installing ramps or shower grab bars be necessary?
  • At what point or stage of mental and physical decline would outside help be brought in?
  • What is the budget for the household and medical care?
  • Who would be in charge of the finances and at what point would that responsibility be relinquished to the adult children?
  • Would the older parents be willing and able to help out their kids with childcare or routine home maintenance?
  • If the kids and older parents disagree on the state of things, who would be an acceptable party for crisis resolution? For example, if dad refuses to give up his driver’s license but has had a few fender benders, at what point would a neutral 3rd party help guide the decision for him to no longer drive?
  • Who would have power of attorney and when?
  • This should be a discussion among all members of the family and include each sibling, even those who live out of town.
  • Address the concerns of your adult children such as fear and guilt about the decisions they will be ultimately making.

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It is important to consider such issues now because the changes can take place quickly. On the website, parentgiving.com, Ali Davidson, the former owner of an in-home care agency explains: “Just as our children seemed to grow up overnight from diapers to bikinis, we too will one day wake up and find that mom or dad has become ‘suddenly senior’ and roles will reverse.” Davidson observes that the most difficult part is the in between stage because older parents may quickly develop health problems and be extremely resistant to accepting help from their adult children whom they may still view as immature “kids”.

That is why it is vital to have detailed, serious conversations before things take a downward turn. Include all of the legitimate “what-ifs”, be honest with yourself and insist that your children to do the same. For some families, it could be beneficial to hold a formal meeting and hire a professional mediator to effectively guide the group and consider all of the pertinent scenarios.

Thankfully, we live in a time where tremendous advances have been made in technology that has made it easier for seniors to live safer and more independent lives. From smart phone apps to entire home automation systems, help for improving the quality of life for older individuals is growing by leaps and bounds.

For more ideas, here is a helpful planning guide from the National Council on Aging in Place.

Additional source: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/11/living/boomers-care-for-parents/

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Please keep in mind that the reverse mortgage industry is constantly changing and some of the information contained on this site may not be current. Please ask a licensed reverse mortgage professional for up-to-date guidelines.