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  • Writer's pictureKathy L. McNair, Esq.

How to start the conversation with your aging loved one...

It’s not easy to sit down and have hard conversations with your aging or sick loved one, but it is extremely important. Talking about this now will ensure everyone is on the same page and that there’s enough time to put a solid plan in place. Remember, even choosing a great nursing home or assisted living facility can seem almost impossible if you run up against waitlists or financial hurdles that prevent your loved one from getting great care. The time to plan is now!

Gently approach your loved one and ask when a good time to talk might be and who else that she wants to include in the discussion. Start by letting your loved one know that you care about her and you want to talk about making sure that there is a plan in place for the future, so that she can be as independent, for as long as possible. Let her know that you want to make sure that her wishes are always honored.

Here are some questions to ask:

1. Has she done any legal planning?

  • Do you have a Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, and Health Care Proxy?

  • ​If the answer is "yes":

  • Do these documents reflect your current wishes?

  • Are the documents up to date?

  • Who have you named in your "legal helper" roles (i.e. Power of Attorney, Healthcare Proxy, Personal Representative)

  • Do you have any other legal documents related to medical care that I should know about, such as a "Do Not Rescusitate Order"?

  • Where can I find the documents if they are ever needed?

  • If the answer is "no":

  • Ask her to think about meeting with an attorney to make sure that she has the documents that she will need in the future.

  • Let her know that you are available to help find a lawyer, if needed.

2. Are there any lifesaving procedures you would NEVER want? This is a tough conversation to have. For example, if the prognosis is very bad, and your quality of life is gone, doe you want to be be kept alive by artificial means, and life support, or would you rather be kept kept comfortable, without aggressive measures to keep her alive.

3. What are your thoughts on long-term care? If you become too sick to live at home, what are your thoughts on assisted living or a nursing home?

  • Do you have Long Term Care Insurance?

  • If at all possible, would you prefer in-home assistance?

  • If you needed nursing home or in-home care, how would you want us to pay for it?

  • What if Medicare or Medicaid is not an option?

While these are just a handful of basic questions to start with, as your conversation progresses, you will learn so much more about your loved one. You may be surprised by his/her wishes and find out he/she feels differently than you had imagined. In all, you will find that knowing your loved one’s wishes in these different situations, will make it easier if you ever need to make difficult decisions. If you find out that your loved one has not done any planning, you can encourage he/she to meet with an attorney to take the steps needed to put a plan in place.

There are lots of attorneys in the Greater Boston, Massachusetts area. However, if you have a specific issue related to a senior or disabled person, you should make sure that you meet with an attorney that specializes in elder law to help you.

Senior Solutions, Attorneys at Law, is an elder law and estate planning law firm serving the Greater Boston and South Shore of Massachusetts. We are caring attorneys, ready to help you. Please feel free to contact us anytime that you have a question related to elder law or estate planning.

Phone: 617-489-5900, email:,

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