Mom and Dad should appreciate your concerns
Doug Mayberry | Apr 13, 2012, 10:46 a.m.
Q. Our parents are in their 70s and remain healthy. Dad takes care of the checkbook and groans about handling details. As their only child, I have never asked what their final wishes are because I feel uncomfortable about doing so. I know little about their plans, goals or finances, and they have never volunteered details about their wishes. How can I now comfortably introduce the subject?
A. Amazingly, your same sentiments are often felt by both adult children and parents. It is reasonable that children who love their parents should want to know how they can protect and activate their parents’ wishes when the time comes.
A successful approach can be to ask your parents for advice. Use a third party technique, such as telling the folks your friend is considering buying his first home because housing prices are down. Do your parents think his timing is right? Another inquiry could be that your insurance agent has proposed that you and your wife buy long-term health insurance policies because the premiums are cheaper at this age. This may bring up information about if your parents own or do not own a similar policy. A series of ongoing questions, over several months, should prove to be fruitful!
Timing and patience are important considerations in bringing up these discussions. Ask questions only when your parents are relaxed. As they respond, you will realize whether to move aggressively forward or stay back for a while. Learning if and where important documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other pertinent information are safely filed will minimize your search efforts later, as they are needed.
Your parents may feel relieved and pleased knowing how much you love, care and are concerned about taking care about them! It will be a win-win event.
Q. I have noticed that Mom and Dad have been fussing lately about each other's driving ability. Dad does most of it, but sometimes Mom insists that she drive. Frankly, the family is not certain either one of them should be driving, and we believe they might cut us out of their will if we even suggested they give up their keys. How do others manage this family concern?
A. Do everything you can to determine their current driving capabilities. To do so, find an excuse to take an individual drive with each parent while you sit in the passenger's seat. A few miles of this will provide you with the guidelines for determining their abilities.
If they are not up to speed, they are dangerous to both themselves and others.
Seniors' most dangerous car accidents are caused while backing up, parking, making left turns, becoming lost and not being able to visualize their destination, getting confused between the brake and gas pedals, and/or being disturbed by other drivers honking at them or not following the road rules.
Should you believe they are endangering themselves, recommend that they enroll in an AARP driving course or one provided in their local senior center. That certificate could also provide an insurance discount.
The worst-case scenario would be if you needed to take away their car keys. Because of the lack of space, I will need to write how best to do so in a future column.
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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