grandpa and kid

Instead of flat out asking them to tell you about their personal information, it can work better to talk about emergency preparedness instead.

When a natural disaster strikes, it can prompt many “what if” conversations. What if that were to happen to us? What if that were to happen to our family? These events be a great segue into “the talk” with your aging parents about personal healthcare, elder care, and emergencies.

A recent Forbes article, titled “Three Ways To Get Resistant Aging Parents To Talk About The Future,” suggests bringing up emergency preparedness as a way of getting to the information you need for care of an aging parent otherwise.

There are some basics everyone needs to have, and it’s your mission to wheedle it out of them!

Start a conversation with an aging parent with what they would want you to do if there were a disaster—the Forbes article says that it’s much less threatening to think of these kinds of events more than personal medical emergencies because they’re happening to someone else and perhaps far away. The discussion may start with a question, such as “Mom, what would you want us to do if you were laid up in the hospital by a tornado (earthquake, flood, etc.)?

Ask how they would pay their bills if they were left unconscious as a result of a disaster. This can help you create a list of bank accounts, and other important information. Also, if your parent doesn’t have a Durable Power of Attorney for finances, the article says this is an ideal time to get that done.

Leverage the news headline to get the information: it’s timely, frightening, and real. The news of a disaster can help you get to know your parents’ wishes. If you don’t already have them, solicit the names of his or her primary care doctor, attorney, and the financial advisor (if engaged by the parent).

It’s all in the same discussion.

One more thing: see if there is a neighbor, friend, or someone nearby who could help if your parent were in distress and was unable to call for help.

Reference: Forbes (September 21, 2013) “Three Ways To Get Resistant Aging Parents To Talk About The Future

For more information on elder law and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.