They are in their eighties and don't want to talk about the possibility of needed help.

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I haven't done it yet, but when I bring it up to my husband, I plan to say that either one of us is just one bad fall or car accident away from needing care. To a child, I would suggest that you get your own documents in order and then present them to your parents and ask them to do the same.

Nobody wants to talk about this. LOL.
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Wow, that is a tough one, regardless of age. Being a Military spouse I remember talking to my husband about this before his first deployment in in 1998. It was one of those things that had to be done, but was extremely difficult.

When my mother passed in 2002 from ALS, Lou Gherrigs Disease, she had nothing ...... No will, no nothing. So my brother and I signed a paper stating we were not entitled to any of moms belongings and everything went to dad. Dad made sure he had his ducks all lined up, withe the exception of family and entitlements. Certain family members believe they are entitled to all of mom and dads trust. Dad was making a large donation to their Church, in honor of my Mom..=}, some family do not like that. Because the Church is getting more than we are...the children.
Whatever we a gift!!! I feel we ( the family) are not entitled to anything! If we are given a gift, it is appreciated and that's it.

I am only saying this because a family member stole the will and trust when dad was in the hospital and now it has gotten very ugly. If there is a large amount of money involved, it can get ugly. Just keep it in the back of your mind. I never in a million years thought something like this would happen. Never. So you have heard the good......and now the bad.
I wish you all the best, God Bless
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Hm, do you mean end of life care, or do you just mean elder care?

If you just mean elder care, a LOT of seniors are stubborn about it, and simply do not want to talk about it. If there is no need for it *yet* they may feel there will simply not be a need at any point. Try to let them know you are not suggesting they are "too old" to care for themselves, but that you want to know what their wishes are, in case something DOES happen. Make it clear to them that you are doing this so that you will know exactly what they wanted when the time comes! (That is one thing that my mother, in her more lucid moments, says she wished she had done for both herself and my dad. it breaks my heart to hear it tho)

They probably still won't want to listen, we're talking about a generation that was raised up with a "do it yourself" attitude. Just be open about why you're doing it, and it may make them understand your side of it!
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I remember when I had to breach this topic with my dad..... I didn't want to do it, because talking about it kind of made the possibility feel too real and too close. I had to push aside the uncomfortableness I felt and just get ut out there.

What I did, was I sat down with my dad one afternoon and just talked from the heart. I told him how much I hated and didn't want to think about the subject that was on my mind, but that it was something that had to be addressed.

I still remember this conversation, even though it was done over a dozen years ago. I said,

"Dad: If something ever happens to you, I am gonna be a wreck. You know you mean everything to me. You're my best friend. If something were to happen and I were to lose you, my whole world would collapse around me. I'm not sure that I'll be emotionally able to see to the things that should be seen to when I'm that distraught."

Then I told him the things that I didn't think I could handle, such as last wishes etc.

The next week, my dad had made an appointment with an elder law attorney, which he took me and my mom to. There, my parents both drew up their Wills. They both had General Health Care Directives done and both named me the Power of Attorney. They went a step further and had me named Power of Attorney for each of them in the event that they could no longer care for themselves.

It was a huge relief to me.
It's not an easy subject, but a necessary one. I think that are parents are a lot more receptive to talking about this and getting this stuff done then we would believe. Remember, that in doing this, they are performing ab act of taking care of their CHILD, which is something every good parent is drawn to do.

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This is an uncomfortable conversation. That you want to know what their wishes are tells me that you are responsible and caring.

Since they don't want to discuss it I would suggest you talk to them in increments. Having been through this in my opinion is it VITAL that family/adult children are aware of our parents end-of-life wishes. My elderly father and I were able to have numerous discussions on this topic and I'm very grateful for the information my dad shared now that he is at the end of his life.

I would imagine that there are websites where you could gather some good questions, asked in a delicate and sensitive way. Maybe even here on

One thing you need to know before you begin is if your parents have an advanced care directive. This document will tell you what they want as far as end of life healthcare goes. It's a good place to start. If your parents have this document it could be the springboard on which to inquire about other desires they may have. If they don't have one of these documents it would be prudent to download one from the internet ( and use it to open the door to the discussions you wish to have.

My mom passed away years ago and I can still hear her telling me that she doesn't want to talk about this 'right now'. We want to be respectful towards our parents but there is so much involved in end of life care. Your parents are adults and sometimes adults have to have uncomfortable conversations. Of course no one wants to talk about this but it's a fact of life and a little push here and there isn't going to hurt.

What always worked with my elderly father is reminding him that any information/thoughts/opinions he can provide me will make it easier for me to care for him. Our parents don't want to be a burden on us. It's their greatest fear. If you can approach it that way, letting your folks know that IF this information is ever needed (not "when") you will be better prepared to "help" them (as opposed to "caring" for them, which again sounds like a burden). Try to approach your parents in the spirit of a partnership, something you're all in together with everyone being equal. And I would suggest you approach them separately and together over a period of time. Plant a few seeds first, see what takes root. Then revisit the conversation at a later time. A day later. A week later. Whatever you think is best and depending upon their current health status.

How you apprach them also depends on your relationship with them. Are you a family who always communicated? Or were some things always left better unsaid? My dad and I were always able to communicate so initiating a conversation about his end of life wishes wasn't that big of a deal. However, and I warn you: My dad told me many times that when the time came he had a letter stashed in his room that would tell us everything we needed to know. He wouldn't show me this letter but I know he worked on it over the years. I would ask questions about specific things like his finances, or how to pay for his funeral and he would assure me that it was all in this letter. So when my dad took a turn for the worse I went in search of this letter and I found it in his room. I was relieved because he'd been telling me for years that this letter held the solutions to all of the end of life issues. Unfortunately, it did not. It was a sweet letter, it was funny, it made me cry but it was woefully inadequate when it came to the many, many issues our parents face at the end of their life. To sum up this letter in one word: useless. So my suggestion to you would be to NOT leave it up to your parents to figure all of this out. They're from a different generation when things were much simpler. In my dad's letter he advised me to call his investment guy to liquidate his annuity. All I had to do was call him, my dad wrote. Of course it wasn't that simple. I couldn't call this guy out of the blue, claim to be my dad's daughter and expect him to cut me a check! It took months to liquidate this money. So make sure you are AWARE of everything. Your parents may tell you things just to get you to stop talking about it. Leave it be for the time being then begin chipping away again later.

My brother and I had a hell of a time unraveling all of my dad's supposed 'plans' and 'wishes' he wrote about in this letter. I wish I had insisted on seeing this letter but it was important to my dad that we read it after he was gone so I let it go. Once he became sicker is when I went in search of this letter and I'm so glad I did. It was a loving, beautiful letter to my brother and I but did nothing to help us. So learn from my mistake and don't let your folks tell you that they've got it covered and to not worry about it.

I don't know if this answers your question but again, you're right in needing to know what your parents want and don't want. Don't let them get away with being uncomfortable about talking about this stuff. NO ONE wants to talk about this stuff but it has to be discussed. Tell them that YOU need to know for your own peace of mind. Keep it on you. They'd be helping YOU by discussing this. YOU want to do what's right by them, etc. Keep the topic off the subject of death and keep it on how YOU want them to have everything they need, YOU want to care for them in the best way you know how. Talk about it in dribs and drabs if it's too much for them but keep at it. Is one parent more approachable than the other? Try that parent first. Not everything needs to be discussed and settled in one sitting either. It can be an ongoing dialogue.

Good job, JMJP4US, in looking out for your parents!
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