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Most people will, at some point in their lives, know what it is like to have an older relative. This comes with a wide variety of stress and painful conversations as many people’s loved ones lose the ability to care for themselves and live independently. At that point, external intervention becomes required — which may or may not be welcome. Here are three essential talking points to bring up.

Driving

Drivers over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, this means that some seniors may lose the ability to drive. Make sure you are regularly checking on your older relatives and monitoring their ability to drive a car. If you suspect there is a problem, have a long conversation with them to see if they recognize the potential issue. If they are stubborn, but you truly suspect something is wrong, have a conversation with their doctor. The doctor may need to make a medical determination about whether it is safe for your relative to still have a driver’s license.

Living on Their Own

As they get older, some seniors lose the ability to independently care for themselves. If they are struggling with the regular activities of daily living, it may be time to have a longer conversation about whether they can continue to live on their own. That doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is required to move into a nursing facility, but they may need to get a home health aide in order to continue to stay in their current housing situation.

Financial Management

Unfortunately, in this day and age, far too many elderly individuals fall victim to financial scams that target the elderly. These happen for many reasons, not the least of which being that seniors may lose the ability to determine what is a real request for money from a friend or relative and what is a scam. As such, a senior may need additional assistance when it comes to financial management, including potentially assigning a financial power of attorney. As a loved one, your job should be to determine if your elder relative needs this kind of assistance and how you can best help provide it.

These conversations with older relatives can be extremely painful as they involve sensitive judgments about things like health, cognition and the capacity for an individual to live independently. It’s best to initiate these conversations as soon as possible and to conduct them in a way that balances the need to help your relative and his or her dignity as a human being. They are tough conversations to have, but they are necessary.

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