Step 3

Now use some external examples by using relevant/personal details to obtain your parents’ views of what happened in specific situations.

1. Remember when our neighbor “Mr. Smith” was hospitalized and his daughter had to come into town from Dallas to help him? Do you know how this worked out? Did he have a Power of Attorney so his daughter could handle his payments? Since he had difficulty making decisions due to his stroke, do you know who did that for him? Who decided he would sell his home? Who found the facility for him?
2. Did you see the episode on The Doctors that discussed caregiving? Were you ever a caregiver for someone? What was the experience like?
3. Have you seen the movie The Notebook (or any movie related to aging and family)? What did you think?
4. Did you read that article in the New York Times about that woman who was financially abused by her paid caregiver? What do you think about the role her family did (or did not) play in that?

Step 4

Finally, introduce different topics of aging to understand how your aging relative feels about specific aspects of aging. Use the Caregiver Worksheets at for a full list of topics and a discussion guide. Make sure you cover the following:

1. Legal documents (power of attorney, health care surrogate, living will, etc.)
2. Housing preferences (bringing care into the home, assisted living, full care facility)
3. Memory loss
4. Sibling disagreements (create a family plan to minimize)
5. Spiritual and emotional care and support for the family
6. Financial and property management – using funds for care, caregiver support, housing, etc.
7. Medical diagnoses, medication, health care professionals – document and organize information
8. Communication and advocacy – What are the expectations? Are the appropriate legal forms signed to promote family involvement?
9. General fears and concerns about aging from the care recipient and caregiver viewpoints
10. General values about treatment when in palliative situations

If your aging relatives are resistant to these conversations you can say things such as:

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Stephanie Erickson

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