How to talk to elderly parents and other aging loved ones | Kansas City

How to talk to elderly parents and other aging loved ones | Kansas City

The holidays can be a time of reunion and joy as family gathers for good food and great company. But for some of us, the holiday season also serves another purpose: to check in with elderly parents and other aging loved ones that we don’t see on a routine basis.

Especially if you’ve gone a while without seeing your elderly parents and other aging loved ones, it may feel jarring to notice new signs of aging around the holidays. But is there anything you can do to help? What resources do they need? How do you even begin the conversation?

Paths Law Firm is staffed by one of Kansas City’s finest elder law attorneys, as well as a team of elder care professionals who are ready to help you navigate the often confusing world of elder care. Every day, we guide conversations with adult children and their aging loved ones to help them assess their challenges, their needs, and ultimately, their care.

Read on to learn from Missouri’s elder care experts about how to talk to elderly parents and aging loved ones in Kansas City.

*This blog is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The use of the Paths Law Firm website does not constitute a client-lawyer relationship.

What to do before talking to elderly parents & aging loved ones

how to talk to aging loved ones in kansas city - woman with arm outstretched

First and foremost, before talking to your elderly parents about their short- and long-term care plan, it’s important to assess their challenges.

Did mom leave the oven on? Did Uncle Steve experience a rough fall? Before deciding how to talk to your elderly parents or aging loved ones, try to understand whether the care they need is cognitive, physical, or both. 

This may take keen observation on your part. Sometimes, when elderly men or women begin to struggle with everyday tasks or are experiencing other common problems associated with aging, they aren’t truthful about it—or they at least downplay the severity of their issues. Only by seeing and observing will you be able to truly understand what they’re going through.

?Note: ideally, you’ll want to talk to your parent or loved one before they face any (more) serious health issues. That’s because it’s much more difficult to think about long-term solutions and planned care in the middle of a crisis.

Once you’ve determined their current mental and physical state—whether that’s chatting with your Aunt Kathy or getting a medical release from their doctor(s)—you’ll feel much more informed and equipped to discuss the things they need. 

Before diving in, however, there’s one more step to take: discuss the situation with other close family members. This is especially true if you anticipate your parent’s care being more involved, which could require more of a time or financial commitment.

Not sure what to look for? You can also use our handy Caring for Aging Parents Checklist.

In the case of a parent or loved one with cognitive issues, be sure to determine who will be the main point(s) of contact between your parent’s care advisors, attorneys, and doctors. This may depend on who is next of kin, but it also may be more nuanced—who has the time to handle these affairs? Who has the capacity and the know-how? Do you have the ability to discuss difficult topics with your other family members?

Sometimes, adult children may feel they have no choice but to handle these issues for their elderly parents. If you want to know more about this difficult but important decision, be sure to stay tuned for our next article: Can I refuse to care for an elderly parent? A Kansas City Elder Attorney weighs in. 

What do I need to talk to aging loved ones about?

speaking to aging loved ones about their living conditions from elder law attorney in missouri

The topics of discussion with your loved one will largely center around his or her unique situation. Here are some of the most popular topics we hear about at Paths Elder Law.

Health & Wellness

Taking care of the physical needs of your loved one should come first. Whether they’re experiencing an orthopedic issue, have an illness or disease, or simply cannot get around like they used to, they deserve to know you care.

In some instances, it might be time to discuss a move. There are a variety of types of care facilities, each with their own specialties and levels of patient involvement. Depending on the needs—and budget—of your loved one, you may find that one type of facility will work better than another. If they wish for you to be involved in this process, or they can’t otherwise navigate it alone, it may help for you to start researching the best facilities near you. This may include independent living options, assisted living, or a nursing home.

The idea of undergoing even a temporary move can fuel a lot of stress, for both you and your elderly parent or loved one. Approach this topic delicately and gauge their reactions to understand how best to proceed.

Keep in mind that the decision to move, even if not to assisted living of a nursing home, permanently or temporarily, may depend on his or her assets, income, and  insurance coverage. Maybe the right option isn’t the nursing home, but they can afford a part-time, in-home assistant to help with cooking, cleaning, or bathing. 

? Your loved one will surely have their own opinions about their care—we’ll discuss that more in-depth below.

Memory Care

In some cases, you may notice that your elderly parent or aging loved one is having trouble with remembering. Depending on the level of severity, you may want to consider memory care as an option. Memory care is provided primarily in assisted living and nursing homes where elderly and aging patients exercise physically and mentally to stay as sharp as they can for as long as they can. 

For example, if mom keeps forgetting doctor’s appointments but is otherwise capable of living independently, there are small things you can do to help ease your concerns. Leaving voicemail, text, or even sticky-note reminders for mom can remind her of upcoming appointments. Additionally, being added as a trusted contact on medical release forms – or even attending appointments with her – can keep you in the loop.

Legacy

Beyond their immediate care and well-being, you and your loved ones may also be concerned about the legacy they’re leaving behind. It’s understandably difficult to be objective when thinking about the possibility that your loved one will someday be gone. However, hopefully, you and your family can find some comfort in preserving their legacy.

It can be confusing to figure out what will happen to your loved one’s assets in the event of their death. Sometimes, he or she will already have an action plan in place (such as a Will or Trust). Oftentimes, though, elderly parents or loved ones will not have started any sort of documentation process to help assemble and/or protect their assets. 

This can lead to assets going into probate or even unintended directions. Probate is a long, tedious, and sometimes unnecessary process to put your family through. The best way to avoid this is to head to an elder law attorney in Kansas City for guidance on asset protection.

View Case Studies → 

Happiness

Is your loved one happy? It can be easy to forget through these discussions that your loved one is their own person: a productive citizen with thoughts and feelings. Remind them that they’re loved, valued, and appreciated, regardless of any decisions made.

How to talk to elderly parents or aging loved ones

portrait of mature couple on a park bench for aging loved ones discussion in kansas city

Now that you’ve determined what to talk to your parents or loved ones about, it’s even more important to determine how to talk to them. 

Pick a Time & Place.

Choosing a comfortable, quiet environment may help your loved one focus to help better absorb information. Where do they feel at ease? It will also be helpful to reduce distractions such as TV or radio. 

Choosing the right time of day and day of the week can also influence your discussion. What time of the day do they feel most alert? Whether it’s on a morning walk during the week or after lunch on a weekend, knowing your loved one’s habits can make for a much more productive meeting.

Having worked with thousands of families across Missouri over the years, the team at Paths Law Firm can say with experience that even the place you sit during your discussion may influence the tone of the conversation. Actually, being face-to-face may help them read your facial expressions (and your lips, if necessary). It will also help you convey you’re serious about and committed to their care.

Decide who will attend.

You may decide to coordinate with other family members to help approach your aging loved one. Be sure that any others involved are also just as serious about and caring for this individual. That said, be careful not to invite too many cooks into the kitchen—you don’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed or bombarded.

Listen.

Before speaking with your aging loved one, be sure to listen. Ask questions about how they’re feeling, what they’re experiencing, and what they think about their journey to getting the help they need. Listening to these concerns may be difficult, but it’s necessary to help you understand and connect with them on a very human level.

Ask, don’t tell.

Especially if you are the child of an elderly parent, giving advice to someone who has helped you throughout your life may feel like a foreign concept. It may even feel wrong. But this is totally normal—and it can be a difficult adjustment for your parents, too. Understand that at the end of the day, all you may be able to accomplish is encouraging the decision you think is best, not forcing them to do something they don’t want to do.

Dealing with negative elderly parents →

Take one step at a time.

Talking to your elderly parent or aging loved one can easily become overwhelming, especially if you have multiple topics to cover. Take your time and address their immediate needs first. Don’t be afraid to take a break. Go get lunch or ice cream and enjoy your time with them!

How NOT to talk to your elderly parents or other aging loved ones

Sometimes it can seem like your parent or aging loved one has a hard time focusing. Other times, they can seem “slow” or forgetful. 

NextAvenue offers advice on how to amend your concerns or challenges with your loved one into more productive and less hurtful conversations. You can also consult with other family members, perhaps their sibling(s) or even parents in some cases! They will know him or her better than anyone and can help advise you on how to approach the conversation in a respectful and compassionate way.

Learn more about elder care in Kansas City from the experts at Paths Elder Law

All of these tips will help you ease the understandable awkwardness of the conversation and show that you care about your loved one, their care, and their legacy. 

Need more help with navigating the confusing world of end-of-life care and assisting your elderly parents and other aging loved ones through it all?

Reach out to Paths Law Firm today to schedule a consultation, and you’ll be one step closer to the peace of mind you’re searching for.

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Community Relations

Jeane M. Fracassa

Community Relations

Jeane M. Fracassa

Jeane Fracassa – a dedicated and accomplished professional who retired with an impressive 38-year service record from the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. Throughout her illustrious career, Jeane served as a Civian Supervisor in the Communications Unit, where she played a pivotal role in ensuring efficient and effective communication within the department.

Even in retirement, Jeane’s commitment to community service remains unwavering. Currently, she serves in various capacities within Community Relations at Paths Law Firm. Actively engaged in the Lee’s Summit and Overland Park communities, she proudly represents the law firm.

In all aspects of her life, Jeane Fracassa exemplifies the values of community, compassion, and family. Her commitment to making a difference and her love for exploration make her a remarkable individual, whose presence brightens the lives of those she encounters. Whether at work, with family, or during her travels, Jeane’s genuine care for others and her zest for life make her a truly remarkable and inspiring person.

Administrative Assistant

Laura E. Messer

Administrative Assistant

Laura E. Messer

Laura is the Law Firm’s marketing assistant, supporting all marketing tasks, including managing calendars, researching upcoming events, updating marketing software and spreadsheets, and partnering with organizations to maintain relationships that benefit Paths Law Firm’s clients.  Laura is also the law firm’s professional photographer as she provides the professional photographs for the headshots, organizations, events, and networking.

Laura has over 10 years of experience as a professional photographer.  She is also Adobe and Microsoft Certified.  She graduated from Columbia College, Columbia, Missouri with her Bachelor of Arts degree, Magna Cum Laude, in Behavioral Psychology (minors in Social Work and Criminal Justice), and her Photographic Craftsman degree from Professional Photographers of America. She is certified as a Qualified Mental Health Professional, Certified Gentle Teacher, Medicaid Billing Certified, Crisis Intervention Counselor, and a Missouri Notary.

Laura has been married more than 26 years and has a daughter and a son. She has four brothers, a niece, and a nephew. Her four spoiled pets that love her attention. A lot of Laura’s off time is spent taking photos and she is an internationally published photographer. Laura owns a studio on the historic Independence Square. 

Administrative Assistant

Holly D. Bramble

Administrative Assistant

Holly D. Bramble

Holly is our newest member of the administrative team. She is hardworking, has proven organizational skills and excellent communication skills. Holly has transitioned to the Estate Planning field from healthcare administration where she gained valuable knowledge that has contributed to her success here at Paths.

Holly enjoys spending time with loved ones, cheering for the Chiefs, and relaxing on the beach.

Administrative Assistant

Tressa L. Purdy

Administrative Assistant

Tressa L. Purdy

Tressa has the important role of being a client’s initial point of contact as the law firm’s receptionist for all locations.  She also welcomes, assists, and cares for clients at the Lee’s Summit office. Additionally, she provides support in an administrative capacity for the attorneys, staff, and clients.  When you meet Tressa, the first quality many note is her readiness to be of assistance.

 

Tressa is a graduate of Park Hill High School with extensive administrative experience and executive level management. Tressa brings a stability and comfort to the law firm experience having worked in a variety of industries and having lived in six different major metropolitan cities.

 

Tressa has a daughter, two sons, and one grandchild.  In her free time, she enjoys her family and friends, loves being outdoors, gardening, bike riding and bird watching. Indoor hobbies include scrapbooking, painting cookies, and cheering on Chiefs football. She is a Kansas City native but enjoys traveling but is always happy to be back in her hometown.  

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Kathleen Overton is an attorney and owner at Paths Law Firm. She has more than 17 years of experience advocating for those with special needs and navigating the state and federal agencies formed to help the disabled and elderly. At Paths Law Firm, Kathleen’s practice focuses on helping the elderly qualify for nursing home Medicaid, creating estate plans to protect beneficiaries, as well as a lot of time planning and forming businesses. Kathleen also enjoys helping clients form non-profit organizations and obtain 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

 

After attending law school at the University of Oklahoma, Kathleen began representing clients before the Social Security Administration. Eventually her practice switched to federal court appeals and Kathleen spent years representing clients before the Eastern and Western District of Missouri, the District of Kansas, and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kathleen has since focused her practice on estate planning and elder law after watching clients struggle to find ways to financially care for loved ones with special needs or aging parents.

 

Kathleen lives in the Northland with her husband and four children. She spends her free time attending soccer matches and ballet performances with her children and starting endless home improvement projects with her husband. 

Medicaid paralegal

Tena K. Dooley

Medicaid Paralegal

Tena K. Dooley

Tena is a Medicaid Paralegal.  She is very meticulous and organized.  She works closely with the attorneys, clients, and State representatives. 

Tena has an associate in applied science and has over 20 years of office management experience. She has two daughters and one grandson.

Tena enjoys spending time with her family.  She enjoys everything outdoors and her hobbies include fishing and gardening.

PARALEGAL & ACCOUNTANT

Sydney R. Morris

PARALEGAL & ACCOUNTANT

Sydney R. Morris

Sydney is the law firm’s internal accountant and one of their experienced paralegals having been with Paths Law Firm since 2017. She is a primary point of contact for estate planning and business planning.

Sydney graduated with honors from the University of Missouri Kansas City in 2022 with her Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. She is a Bloch Launchpad, Phi Theta Kappa, and National Honor Society alumni.

In her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with her husband, reading, baking and going on long walks. 

SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Christy L. Phillips

SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Christy L. Phillips

Christy has three years of experience in elder law working for seniors and their families. She is currently the Senior Administrative Assistant and organizes the day to day functions of the office and makes sure everything runs smoothly. When asked why she loved what she does, Christy said at Paths Law Firm, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite parts of the job are getting to know the clients and helping them get their questions answered. 

Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as the Senior Administrative Assistant. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to the relationship she had with her grandparents. 

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has been with her high school sweetheart for 25 years and they have two beautiful children together. Her daughter works in the medical industry, and her son currently attends High School and plays Baseball. When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and spending time with her family and friends.

Christy’s experience in the finance industry has been extremely beneficial to her role as Benefits Coordinator. There have been many influences that went into her decision to select the field of Elder Law. Christy has a special place in her heart for the elderly and attributes this to her relationship with her grandparents.

When asked why she loves what she does, Christy said that at Paths Elder law, she gets the opportunity to help clients in more ways than one. Her favorite part of her job is getting clients approved for Medicaid or VA benefits as it is a huge relief for them and their loved ones.

Christy was raised in Ogden, Utah, and moved to Independence, MO, when she was ten years old. She has two children that keep her busy and fill her life with joy! Christy’s daughter cheers for Avila University, and her son plays competitive baseball for the Bucks and races BMX locally for the Motorcycle Closeout Team.

When Christy is not working, she enjoys crafting and making homemade gifts for her loved ones and raising her kids to be healthy, happy, and positive humans.

 

Practice Areas

  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits

 

Professionalc Memberships and Affiliations

  • Missouri Notary

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René A. Fracassa

Rene A. Fracassa, Paths Law

FINANCIAL MANAGER

René A. Fracassa

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

René is the Financial Manager at Paths Law Firm overseeing all aspects of revenue, expenses, and financial planning. She is also responsible for general office management, including assisting in many of the administrative matters that periodically arise. 

 

René earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri and soon thereafter worked her way through management at The American Restaurant where she worked almost 17 years before relocating to the country of China.

 

In her spare time, René is currently quite active managing multiple generations of her family, including parents and grandkids.  René has had great impact on the lives of many women teaching discipling and teaching and abundance of Bible Studies. Her former career in management and event planning trained her well to juggle all the activity.

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

Hilary plays a vital role in managing the Marketing Department at Paths Law Firm.  She is excellent at bringing new ideas and sharing valuable resources with the law firm and our community. Hilary has been with the law firm since the beginning, working in nearly every role which is invaluable in her marketing endeavors as she brings a unique set of skills into the Marketing Department.

Hilary is nearly complete in her Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Marketing at Park University.  She has earned the honor of being listed in National Honors Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Dean’s List. Hilary is always looking for new and innovative ways to share the law firm’s message.

While not working, Hilary spends her time with her family at their rural home. They tend to their chickens and honeybees and enjoy the solitude of country living.

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer A. Bronson

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer

Jennifer is the Sr. Paralegal and Operations Manager at Paths Law Firm.  She oversees the firm’s probate department as well developing, implementing, and managing all the firm’s administrative processes having been with the law firm almost from the beginning.  She enjoys client contact as well as behind-the-scenes operations.

 

Jennifer began her legal career in 1990 as a legal secretary.  She has worked in small and medium sized firms, as well as court operations.  She has her Paralegal Certificate from Boston University, Law Office Management Certificate from University of Central Missouri, and she is a Master Financial Coach. 

 

Jennifer has two daughters, twin sons, and twin grandsons.  She spends as much time as she can with them.  She enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, and tending her yard. 

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

When asked what he wants to do, his reply was “I just want to sit at the kitchen table and work directly with people.” Rusty enjoys working with clients providing experienced advocacy and supporting them through their unfamiliar and overwhelming situations. Due to all the challenges faced by seniors, it is essential to work with an experienced elder law attorney who has expertise in the law, issues, and concerns affecting seniors and their families.

Rusty brings more than 30 years legal experience and expertise working for seniors and their families as an elder law attorney in Kansas City and surrounding. Prior to law school, Rusty was an accountant and his first couple years practicing law was as a tax attorney. This provides invaluable experience in his current practice of law. Rusty’s focus is helping protect seniors’ assets from taxes and long-term care costs, benefit qualification, and navigating more complex family scenarios in their estate planning.

Rusty has personally experienced the loss every parent fears, caring for a spouse suffering with cancer and the treatment, and working with aging parents through all stages of their lives.  He intimately understands the challenges faced by individuals and their caretakers when capacity or health declines, how to prepare for it, and the legal matters while in the midst of it.  He may not be able to eliminate his client’s grief, but he strives to provide clients with peace of mind.

In 2010, Rusty’s faith and love led him and part of his family to China as Christian missionaries. He and his wife, went permanently, but ended up dedicating 3 years to that ministry. They returned to Missouri to help with grandchildren after a family tragedy and later began anew with Paths Elder Law. The goal is providing compassionate care through legal advocacy.

Rusty has multiple degrees and advanced study spanning his Bachelor’s of Arts in Business Administration – Accounting at Rockhurst College (now Rockhurst University), Masters of Arts in Accounting and in Intercultural Studies, as well as his Juris Doctorate from the University of Missouri at Kansas City School of Law.

When Rusty is not practicing law, he enjoys spending time with his family, grandchildren, and excessive eating at local restaurants.

Practice Areas

  • Wills and Trusts
  • Estate Planning
  • Asset Protection
  • Medicaid Benefits
  • VA Benefits
  • Probate
  • Guardianship and Conservatorships
  • Education

 

BSBA and Master’s in Accounting, Master’s in Inter-Cultural Studies, and Doctorate in Juris Prudence

  • Rockhurst University
  • Liberty University
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City


Admissions to Practice

  • Missouri


Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • State Bar of Missouri
  • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (long-time Member)
  • Elder Counsel (Charter and Ongoing Member)
  • Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys (Past Member)
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
  • Missouri State Bar Committees – Elder Law, Estate Planning, Probate