Quad Cities, IL/IA

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Let’s Talk Part 1 of a 2 part series.


By Karen McCoy, Marketing Consultant, Ridgecrest Village

Older adults and their adult children rarely discuss key aging issues. Only one in three seniors report discussing health topics regularly with their kids and even fewer have discussed long-term care options with each other. Fewer than one in five have discussed life insurance or wills.

We can’t predict the changes we will experience as we grow older. However, we do know the most common changes relate to health, living arrangements, the need for assistance, finances, and end-of-life issues. Discussing these topics is a good way to start.

By planning ahead you enable the following outcomes:

  • It will easier to cope with the changes
  • Crisis decision-making can be avoided
  • Personal control is retained even in difficult situations

So, why people not talking about these things? No one wants to start the conversation.

Here are some tips to get you started. For example, think about what ifs? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What if I had a stroke and could no longer live alone? Where would I want to live? Could I live in my home with help? With my family? Assisted living?
  • What if I developed significant memory loss? Who would I want to pay my bills? Help me make financial or medical decisions?
  • What if my mother had a heart attack and needed help? What in-home or community-based services could help? What can I do? Why don’t you start the conversation?

Look for opportunities to talk

Be alert to natural opportunities to talk about these issues. For example, if someone you know is going through an aging situation, bring it up and talk about how your family might handle a similar situation.

Discuss getting together to talk about these issues. Use this article as a way to ask for a meeting. This might be from an advice column or some story from the local newspaper.

Meet in person if possible. It is more difficult to discuss these things on the phone. If you cannot meet, be sure to set aside time to talk uninterrupted.

Choose a time and place that is comfortable and relaxing, and keep distractions to a minimum. Many families find it helpful to avoid busy times like the holidays.

Getting started

  • Before meeting, make a checklist of the topics you’d like to discuss.
  • Involve others. It is important to all talk together so that all children are hearing the same thing. This will help parents and siblings at later dates so that there are fewer misunderstandings.
  • Start out slow and easy. Don’t try to cover everything in one marathon conversation.
  • Remember to listen to one another respectfully. Some families find taking notes helpful.

Talk about health matters

  • It’s important to have a plan before health problems arise. Here are some issues to discuss:
  • Current health problems, physicians, medications, and hospital preference.
  • Health insurance. What kind of coverage? Is it adequate? Where is the policy?
  • Is there a living will? Where is it? Who is named as health care proxy?
  • Who would help in an emergency? A neighbor? A friend? Do they have a key and know how to contact family?

Everyone wants to have these conversations but they are hard to have. Difficult to bring up, emotional for everyone, and over whelming decisions to make. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. Next month we will give you tips on how and what to ask about living arrangements, financial planning, and end-of-life issues.

This information was gathered from articles on the internet and are meant to help you get a conversation started. Go to: https://theconversationproject.org/starter-kits/ for a starter kit that gives you ways to start the conversation.

If you would like to learn more about Ridgecrest Village, contact Karen McCoy or Mary Huebbe at 563-391-3430. Call us for a tour and have lunch with us.