Home Health Care News

The 70-40 Rule: Conversation Starters (Part 2)

Now that you’re 70, you’ve begun thinking about the type of legacy that you’d like to leave your family. But you need more assistance to identify what you would want to pass on to your loved ones, both materially and historically. What can you say to enlist their help?

When it comes to material items, this may depend on how well your family gets along, how good they are at compromising, and how much you know up front that particular items are going to cause problems. If you aren’t expecting huge conflict, it might be possible to avoid awkwardness by making this a party situation. Hold a silent auction where everyone gets together and “bids” on certain items. You’ll get a good idea of who might be particularly attached to what, but it will be done in a fun atmosphere.

However, it’s probably worth doing some informal inquiries up front; if one item seems particularly desirable to everyone, then the party might not get off the ground. If so, just have some individual conversations with people about their desires and reasons for those, and make the best decision you can. A good way to start such a conversation might be: “John, I’m not planning on dying soon, but I am working on my will. I’d really like to make sure that everyone gets something special and unique to remember me by. Is there anything from the house that you’d particularly like to inherit when I die?”

If you’d like to pull together history items for your loved ones, why not make this a family project as well. Or, tape memories and other family history on an audio cassette and leave it in a safety deposit box. A grandchild or other relative may someday value this hidden treasure, even if no one seems interested now.

At age 85, you’re happy to be healthy and living longer than you ever expected. But money is running out. Not only will you be unable to leave your children the inheritance they’re expecting, but funds are getting tight for you as well. What do you say to your kids?

The first step is to establish a budget and know exactly how bad the situation is. You may be able to do this on your own, or you may want to find non-profit credit counseling services that could help. Your children can assist if you are comfortable with that. It’s very likely that their first question when you start talking about this will be along the lines of “How bad is it?” You will either need to have an answer, or be ready for them to start asking more detailed questions. So if you don’t want them involved in the details of your finances, make sure you can answer them clearly about the bottom line: How much more money do you need each month to continue getting by?

A good way to start this conversation might be something like “Barbara. I’m a little embarrassed to tell you this, but I’m afraid I’m running short on money. I had planned everything just fine, but I was expecting to be dead by now! Can we talk a little about this? Or can you help me figure out what I should do?” Many children will be more than happy to get involved and figure out solutions. Before the conversation starts, make sure that you know what it is you want from your child. Do you want them to financially help you, help you plan or help you find a professional financial advisor? You will always be more effective in this sort of conversation if you know what you want from it.

You’ve just returned from the doctor’s office where you were diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer. Your three adult children live elsewhere. How do you start this discussion without sending your children into a panic?

As with many such situations, you should first make sure that you understand what the situation is. Get all the information you need from your doctor about the likely outcome of your situation. You may have to set up a follow-up visit and take a series of questions written down. Also take written notes at the appointment. When you’re comfortable you know what’s happening, figure out if there’s anything you want or need from your kids at this time: Does one of them have expertise that they could offer, money or contacts that you could benefit from? Do you need someone to take care of you or some of your personal affairs for a period of time? Or are you just calling to let them know the information? Write down what you want to get out of the conversation.

OK, time to call the kids. Have the information you’ve gathered in front of you and be ready to tell them details. You should break the news gently. “Cancer” is a word that scares a lot of people, so if there’s another way to frame the situation, then great (e.g., “something unusual is going on with my prostate”). At the same time, don’t trivialize the situation, particularly if the doctor has said it’s serious and you are going to be going through some difficult treatments. If you child seems to be in denial about the seriousness of the situation, don’t be surprised. It may take a couple of conversations and you giving them more information. On the other hand, if your child seems to be panicking, have some comforting information from the doctors ready to try to calm them down “Hey, MAry, 90% of people who have what I have come through it just fine.”

Home Instead Senior Care is an in-home health care provider located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina serving individuals and families in the Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand area for over 11 years! We offer assistance to those in need for companionship, home help, personal care, short-term recovery, Alzheimer’s care, Respite care and many other services to make your life easier.

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