It’s a conversation that many people put off, but the fact is that talking with your parents about healthcare before an emergency arises may save a life. While it’s important that you not delay this talk until it’s too late, you may have some questions about where to begin.
In short, you should try to know as much about your parents’ healthcare as you do about your own. In an emergency situation, your parents may not have the ability to respond to healthcare workers’ questions. Physicians depend upon this vital information to make timely and accurate decisions regarding care. Without it, mistakes are much more likely to occur.
Have a list and stay up to date on any medications or vitamins that your parents are taking. Make sure your list includes their medication doses.
A basic guideline is when you turn 40 or your parents turn 70, whichever comes first. Of course, if your parents are in poor health or have serious medical issues, you should ask sooner, especially if one of your parents or both live alone. Again, the best time to find out about this information is before one of your parents becomes ill. At the time of diagnosis or accident, emotions are often high, which can influence medical decisions and affect the quality of care.
It can be difficult for parents to talk frankly about their healthcare. Many are uncomfortable with their changing roles: from caretaker to receiver. Because of this, it’s extremely important to reassure your parents that they will not be losing any independence. Help them understand your reasons for asking and what you will do with the information once you have it. Getting this information may require more than one conversation.
[box type="important"]You should be careful not to come across as an interrogator, but rather as a concerned adult child who wants to help your parents manage their healthcare.[/box]