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In this 5-part series, you'll learn how to talk to your parents about how they want to spend the

It's hard to think about, but one day your parents are going to get old. Some of you may be thinking, “My parents are already old!” What I mean is, not only will they get old in age, but possibly in mind and body, too. They may lose their memory as with Alzheimer's and dementia, or become disabled due to a heart attack, stroke or diabetes. Either way, it's likely that they will need your help in some way. Then one day, inevitably, they will pass on.

No one wants to talk about their parents dying or the possibility of them being unable to care for themselves. But, there are perks with aging: your investment in health insurance finally pays off; your eyes won't get too much worse; and no one expects you to run—anywhere! Plus, your parents just may forget about all the stuff you did to drive them crazy as a kid. But don't count on it!

Don't get caught off-guard.

What happens when your mom is sick in the hospital and your dad is left alone and isn't able to care for himself? What if your mom can no longer bathe, feed or dress herself? What happens when the doctor asks,”Should we put her on a respirator?” or “Should we place a feeding tube?” Are you really ready to answer these questions and deal with the level of care your parents need?

The first and most important thing you can do to make an unexpected situation manageable is to have a plan in place long before you think you need it. Without a plan that anticipates things to come, you will be left facing the inevitable crisis unprepared. When reacting to a difficult situation as opposed to carrying out a plan for it, your instincts will be dampened and your decision-making will not be at its best, leaving both you and your parents vulnerable. You can't plan for the future when the present is so demanding, so it's best to form a plan when there is no problem.

You may be thinking, “Sure, Barbara, you make it sound like it's easy, but it's not! Where do I start?!”

We'll talk about that in the next installment.

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