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10 Necessary conversations to have about aging-related issues

Carol Marak

by

Health & Fitness

I'm an Aging Advocate and started writing for health care and online publishers since 2006. I enjoy researching and writing on aging topics that help seniors and family caregivers.

Aging experts suggest you discuss these 10 senior care issues with your family

SeniorCare.com recently published "The Misconceptions on Aging." In the article, 44 senior care thought leaders contributed strategies and advice for active aging care planning. The report provided information and strategies to help guide the general public, and was a big hit — featured in over 200 articles and websites.

I’m part of the team at SeniorCare, and we want to tackle other aging-related issues that the American public faces, the ones that highly impact families.

We hope to address issues like:

  • What’s the first thing siblings should talk about when caring for a parent?
  • How can we enhance life as one grows older?
  • What types of technologies improve aging-in-place?

Older adults and family caregivers have so many questions that we decided to create a monthly Aging Expert Q&A. We asked our experts on aging: "What is one thing related to aging that you wish people discussed more?"

10 Aging-related conversations we need to have now

1. Resilience — with the proper assistance, seniors can adapt and often thrive in otherwise challenging situations.

I wrote my book, The Savvy Resident's Guide, to give elders the information and guidance they need to be as independent and content as possible in rehabilitation and long-term care settings. Eleanor Feldman Barbera, Ph.D., My Better Nursing Home

2. Discuss aging sooner and physically take care of ourselves throughout life, because it impacts how we age.

How we take care of ourselves financially will affect the quality of life. Finally, in terms of emotional health, we can learn a lot from elders now about what it takes to live a quality life as you age. Anthony Cirillo, The Aging Experience

3. People need to know that not making a decision is making a decision.

If you don't have a financial power of attorney in place, that doesn't prevent loss of financial capacity, it means that the probate courts will assign someone. If you don't make the decisions yourself, there's always a default. So think ahead! Kai Stinchcombe, True Link Financial

4. There should be more discussion and education on depression in the elderly, as it relates to aging.

The illness is significant, and if more people understood how it affects the aging process, it could help so many and their quality of life. Julie Westcott, Tender Loving Family Care

5. It is OK to have a sense of humor about aging.

Aging is just another phase of life, not something to avoid or feel shame about. Cathleen Grant, SilverLinkUSA

6. Everyone, not just people in the industry, should discuss it more, in general!

If everyone shared their stories more, people would know a lot more about what to expect when loved ones — or themselves — age. I love hearing celebs like Seth Rogen talking about family experiences with Alzheimer’s because it gets the word out to a wider audience. Shannon Martin, Aging Wisely

7. Speak about finances before reaching retirement.

What are their sources of income? 401k, IRA, social security, pension, rental income? Who will be helping make financial decisions? Will children or other relatives be involved? Our life expectancy is much longer than previous generations so an important part of the aging discussion should be about finances. Rebecca Arciaga, Advisors Mortgage Group

8. Hands down, we need to talk about the gifts we receive through our aging experience.

As a society, we no longer value lessons learned, nor share them freely with others. Life is a living school house, a journey that allows us to collect knowledge and wisdom — and share it. Open one’s heart to life's information and accept it with love and respect, valued as priceless as we maneuver through life. Lori La Bey, Alzheimer's Speaks

9. Discuss end-of-life care.

There are options to make end-of-life comfortable and dignified. Making your wishes known to family members, so they can carry them out when the time comes, is a gift for family caregivers. Palliative and hospice care provides a great service to not only those requiring the attention but for the family members to heal from the loss. Kathy Birkett, SeniorCare Corner

10. Plan financially, including the people who may provide care as you age.

Surveys show people fear to outlive their money more than death, fewer than half have a plan. First, take advantage of time. Second, decide who should be a part of the conversation: children, friends, financial professionals and attorneys can all be included. Each plays a role. Do research on costs, types of care, collecting medical, financial or legal planning and organizing the retirement you want. What goal do you want to accomplish? Most importantly, have a plan. Steve Forman, LTC Associates.

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