Dear Boomers, We’re Gonna Need Some More Info. Love, Your Gen X Children
I have a plethora of parents, you might also. I have my father, I am his only child, and he isn’t married. I have my mom and stepdad, who I am extremely close to, and have a half-brother. I have my husband’s mom and stepdad; he is their only child. And finally, I have my husband’s dad and stepmom, and they have a 19-year-old son.
I’ve never shied away from asking the hard questions.
Do you have a will?
Do you want to be buried or cremated? And where?
Do you feel like you have the resources you need after you retire?
I’ve always thought that the money questions were the toughest.
And with my wide assortment of parents, I have gotten a wide variety of answers – Don’t need a will, just split everything evenly and fairly with your brother. Have a will, but it is just a simple one, because you are our only child. Don’t need a will, you are my only child, you get everything. (I have a dear friend who is a family law attorney, and I think she would scream at these answers. So Boomer’s, get a good detailed will and all of the other things a family lawyer recommends for heaven’s sake!)
Perhaps you have gone through this process already with your parents.
But I’ve learned over the last week, that I don’t have any of the answers I actually need to be the most helpful to my parents, and you might not either. I don’t need to know if they are leaving me money. What I really need to know is what is going on with their health.
Here are the questions we, Gen X’ers really need the answers too.
Who is your primary care physician?
When is the last time you went to the dr and had a full physical?
Are there any health issues that you haven’t shared with me, or that are being monitored?
What medicines do you take?
Do you have a medical power of attorney?
What type of insurance do you have?
Have you gotten your memory tested lately? So we can at least have a baseline.
At what point in cognitive decline, will you be prepared to accept help for daily activities?
When cognitive or physical decline begins and doctors don’t feel like you can live alone, where do you want to live? Active Nursing Home? With me? Assisted Living?
Can we put a legal document in place, so that when doctors determine it isn’t safe for you to live alone, that I have permission to follow the plan you decided in advance (see question above)?
When it is no longer safe for you to drive, as determined by doctors, would you prefer I take the car away? Or can I just take the keys?
Will you sign medical release forms so that all of your doctors have permission to discuss any medical concerns with me, when they feel like you aren’t following their suggestions?
At what point, can I start going to your doctor with you so that they are able to meet me and feel comfortable discussing your care with me?
What financial resources do you have for later age medical care? Do you want us to sell your house so that you can continue in a nicer Nursing Home, or do you want to move in with me to help save money?
Boomer’s, I know that you don’t want any help at all. I know you were raised to be independent, free thinkers, who will smoke a little pot and forget the worries of the world for a short time. But I, your child, will be the one scrambling to figure out how to best support you when you have a stroke, a heart attack or late-stage cancer. I love you so much!
But you must know that it won’t be best for either of us if you keep me in the dark until things get bad. If you are trying to protect me, stop it! I am in my 40’s, I have raised kids, I am strong and capable; and I want to help you. We make a great team and I want you to be as comfortable as possible as the years go on.
Please take the time to think about these questions above, and then share your answers with me! I know you believe you are decades away from needing my help, and while I hope that is the truth, how about we get prepared just in case?
I hope that these questions are helpful to my fellow Gen X’ers. I tried to write this in a way that you could just copy off the questions and send them to your parents, so they can start thinking about their answers.
I am sure I am missing some great questions, and I’d love you to share them with me. These are just ones that I have come up with this week as I have tackled some serious health issues with my dad and discovered that I was horribly unprepared and because of that, the road ahead is going to be long and tough.
I hope that you will use this in your own family, and share it with your friends so that they can use it. My friends have been incredibly supportive, but I sure wish someone would have helped me get more prepared before tragedy hit.