Aging Parents: Be Prepared by Gwen Randall-Young
“If I’d known how old I was going to be I’d have taken better care of myself.”
Adolph Zukor, on approaching his hundredth birthday
If you have aging parents sooner or later you are likely going to have to take some responsibility for them. It can be hard to think about this: denial can set in or we decide we will deal with it when the time comes.
In truth, the time to deal with it is before the time comes. There are things you can do in advance and you will be thankful that you did. It is important to have a listing of things like parents’ social insurance numbers, location and numbers of bank accounts and investments, location of birth and marriage certificates, contact information for pension or retirement plans, information about insurance, safety deposit boxes, credit card numbers, bills they must pay, as well as names and numbers of physicians and lawyers.
You should encourage parents to have up-to-date wills, along with a personal directive and enduring power of attorney. A personal directive names someone who will have authority to make personal decisions (not financial) on the parent’s behalf should they reach the point where they lack the capacity (medically verified) to do so themselves.
Enduring power of attorney names someone who will have authority to make decisions about all legal or financial issues. Again, a written declaration of a medical doctor is required as proof the individual has become inform or mentally incapable.
It is also helpful to know a parent’s wishes in terms of burial/cremation and funeral or memorial service.
While it can be hard to address these issues, once it is done all can go on with life knowing things are in order. A parent can suffer a stroke and instantly be unable to assist you with information you will need.
If you are a parent with adult children, you can prepare all of this information for them and let them know where it is kept, in the event that something happens to you. It is hard enough to deal with a parent’s illness or death, without scrambling to figure out what information you need and where to find it.
Talk with your parents/children and get this important piece of business taken care of.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and award-winning Psychotherapist. For permission to reprint this article, or to obtain books or cds, visit www.gwen.ca