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Judith Johnson


7 Tips for Talking About Health and Money With Elderly Parents

Posted: 07/20/10 08:30 AM ET

Not since your conversation about the birds and the bees have you and your parents faced such a difficult conversation. Sooner or later, adult children and their elderly parents need to talk about the parents' medical, financial and legal affairs. The inescapable truth is that at some point the responsibility will fall upon the children to ensure the quality of the parents' care, to carry out their wishes and to finalize their personal affairs. Having an effective dialogue about this will depend on the family's unique circumstances, the parent's mental, emotional and physical condition and the quality of family relationships. Here are seven tips for successfully discussing these sensitive private matters.

Clarify And Neutralize Your Intentions First
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Be ruthlessly honest with yourself about your intentions. If your motivation is to protect your inheritance or to minimize the possibility of your parents becoming a burden to you, your conversation with them will likely fail miserably. On the other hand, if you are sincerely and compassionately concerned for their well-being, they will likely be open to and grateful for your assistance. If you can't leave your personal agenda at the door, then encourage your parents to meet with professional advisers and stay out of their affairs. Also, be clear with yourself and your parents about your own time and energy constraints.
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Above all else, be gentle, kind, loving and supportive - treat your parents as you would wish to be treated.

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