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Conversations With Older Adults About Caregiving And Power of Attorney

For many older adults, some of the realities of aging seem to come on too fast, unexpectedly. As a now elderly person, you may find yourself in a position you haven’t readied yourself for mentally, logistically, or financially. In truth, one of the least discussed aging elements is how it calls for difficult conversations that are often put off until the last minute. Many times, seniors and their families bring in our geriatric care management team because they feel they are already behind on preparing for life’s natural course of aging and it does seem to come down to a lack of communication within the family structure and a lack of conversation around the logistics of aging in our communities.

Many seniors are reluctant to discuss potentially uncomfortable subjects like finances, emergency planning, appointed caretakers and power of attorney, or end-of-life care, but the best time to do so is always before these matters finally come up. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to make decisions more urgently than ideal and being surprised by some of the expenses, logistical difficulties, and inconvenient divisions of labor division that come up without a proper plan. For example, many seniors and adult children do not know, off the top of their heads, whether their insurance can pay for them to age in place with in-home help or to move to a live-in facility if needed.

Something geriatric care managers often provide excellent guidance with is facilitating these conversations within a family in an expert manner. While discussing some potential issues of aging independently can be painful among loved ones, it’s much worse when done without reliable information and professionally curated options laid out for a practical plan. These discussions can be an opportunity to assess resources, insurance options, assets, and finances, and decide what’s possible, planning for the best- and worst-case scenarios. They can also be a good starting point to ultimately divide up caretaking tasks among professionals and loved ones and determine the extent of the involvement needed from family members.

Without prior planning, conflict may arise in many families where one adult child may become the de facto primary caregiver with disagreements occurring around aspects of care. This is especially harmful when the older adult's wishes are not made clear in advance and the plan of care becomes less person-centered with decisions being made spontaneously, especially if the senior becomes temporarily or permanently unable to call the shots. Having a power of attorney in place, with as many details as possible laid out in advance, is crucial for safeguarding an elderly person’s autonomy and mental well-being.

While there can be an initial aversion to this type of future planning, as it inevitably puts one face-to-face with some unpleasant scenarios, it allows for the senior and their loved ones to preserve a familial relationship over a logistical one. If you are interested in discussing any matters of aging with a professional on our team, we offer FREE consultation calls every day at 617-405-8796. You can also leave a comment with your question, send us a direct Facebook or Instagram message, or e-mail us at

Senior Steps provides assistance with medical, legal, and financial advocacy and planning, and help with activities of daily living.

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