The Conversation

Gary Barg - Editor-in-Chief, Today's Caregiver Magazine

The question came in the last half of the morning Q and A session at a recent Fearless Caregiver Conference. The gentleman stood and said that he had been trying to have a conversation with his mother about her long-term care wishes. She always seems responsive, but never seems to have the time to actually sit down to have the conversation.

I told him of my concept of creating a caregiver insurance plan.  We have auto insurance, but do not look forward to having a crash; fire insurance, but do not want to have a fire; and life insurance, but---well, you know.  These policies are secured due to the likelihood of our families facing such an event.   Of course, we all realize that it is better to face such events with the appropriate policies in hand.

My belief is that all adult members of your family need to get together and have a conversation about their wishes in case they can no longer make these decisions for themselves.  The topics include:

  • What are your end of life wishes? Do you have advanced directives helping ensure that these wishes will be met? 
  • Are your will and durable medical power of attorney up to date? Many things in your life may have changed since you first sat down to fill out these forms. 
  • Who is your primary doctor? These days we are all going to so many different physicians that having a healthcare gatekeeper is more important than ever.
  • Do you have long-term care insurance? Where are the policies? Your ill loved ones may have secured policies when they were eligible, but how about you?  If you are a caregiver, it is imperative that you do not ignore your own insurance needs.

Now for the most important part, once the conversation starts, do not make it an inquisition about your senior loved one.  Instead, first share your own situation. In fact, you may say, ”Mom, it is important to me that you know what my wishes would be in case anything happens to me.” After sharing your own story, turn to her and say “Okay now, let’s talk about what you want.” 

With family members coming together for the holidays, there is no better time for such a conversation. And no better gift that you can give your entire family.

Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine



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