caring for grandparents

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 an 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). Often times, 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 that 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 a 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.

Contact

Educational Seminar at Paths Law Firm

Paths Law Firm provides a Free Educational Elder Law Seminar every month to help you plan for your future.

Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan Foley at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Ryan D. Foley

Ryan graduated from the UMKC School of Law in 2018 and passed the Missouri Bar that year. Prior to law school, Ryan attended the University of Missouri – Columbia where he attained a degree in Business. He is a Kansas City native, growing up in the Northland where he achieved his Eagle Scout rank by doing a project for his high school. During his time in law school, Ryan was introduced to the practice area of Elder Law by one of his professors and has been

Ryan enjoys working with and educating clients to provide advocacy and support during the unfamiliar and often overwhelming probate process. Ryan understands the challenges faced by individuals when faced by the uncertainty and complexity of government systems or even handling a Trust during a time of grief, and he strives to make the process as easy as possible.

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

administrative assistant at Paths Law

Administrative Assistant

Makaylee A. Morelli

Makaylee is currently working on her bachelor’s in political science and hopes to soon start law school as an aspiring attorney. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her friends and family but most importantly her dogs Taffyta, Tallulah Belle, and Harry. Their favorite thing to do is go on coffee dates and get pup cups.

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

Kathleen Overton, attorney at Paths Law

Attorney

Kathleen E. Overton

After starting her career as a disability attorney, Kathleen transitioned into estate planning at a mid-sized regional law firm. Kathleen joined Paths Law Firm in 2021 when she decided to return to a boutique law firm that provides excellent service and quality to clients. Because of her background as a disability attorney, she brings a thorough understanding of public benefits to each client meeting. At Paths Law FIrm, Kathleen focuses on traditional estate planning and business entity formation, providing tailored advice unique to each client’s situation.

Public Benefits Assistant

Tena K. Dooley

Public Benefits Assistant

Amanda D. Martin

I have my Associates in Applied Science and have over 20 years of office management experience. I have two daughters and one grandson.

During my time away from the office I enjoy spending time with my family.  I enjoy almost everything outdoors and my hobbies include fishing and gardening.

PARALEGAL

Sydney R. Morris

Paths Law elder law in Kansas City

PARALEGAL

Sydney

Sydney is currently enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing an accounting degree and plans to later attend law school.

In her free time, Sydney enjoys spending time with her nephews and volunteering at her local church.

 

CLIENT SERVICES MANAGER

Christy L. Phillips

client service manager at Paths Law

CLIENT SERVICES MANAGER

Christy L. Phillips

Phone: 816-640-8635
Email: [email protected]

Christy has 3 years of experience in Elder Law working for seniors and their families as a Benefits Coordinator processing Medicaid and VA applications. Prior to joining Paths Law Firm Christy worked in the finance industry for over 10 years.

 

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

René has worked along side Rusty for 35 years. Not only is she part of the Paths team, she is also his wife. René spends her time working with the accountant to keep all of the finances in order, as well as general office management.

In addition to helping run the office, she helps manage the family and grandkids, tries to keep everyone fed, and has a passion to teach Bible Studies. Her former career in Event Planning trained her to juggle all the activity. She understands Rusty’s passion to serve people from the first mention of law school. It is a great pleasure for her to be an important part of every area of his life.

 

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary R. Tichota

Hillary at Paths Law

MARKETING MANAGER

Hilary

Hilary plays a vital role in the daily operations of the office. In addition to her regular office duties, Hilary has a heart of gold.

For more than 5 years, Hilary has operated the front desk at Paths, running the office and catering to clients. Hilary recently moved into the role of Community Relations Coordinator. She has a passion for people and a focus to share our business practices with the community’s seniors, businesses, and clients. She especially has a heart for seniors, showing they are loved through her visits, treats, the “Pen to Pal” program, and volunteering services at various senior living communities. She is a wonderful wife and mother of two. Most activities with seniors involve her great talent for any type of craft.

 

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer A. Bronson

Jennifer, senior paralegal

SR. PARALEGAL & OPERATIONS MANAGER

Jennifer

Jennifer has been in the legal field for over 25 years and considers Paths her second home.

When she’s not running the office or working for our clients, she’s spending time with her first passion – her children.

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

attorney at Paths Law elder law

ATTORNEY

Russell A. Fracassa (Rusty)

Phone: 816-640-8635

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 nearly 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 a practicing accountant. This provides invaluable experience in his current practice of law. Rusty decided to put his focus on helping the elderly, vulnerable adults, and their families navigate challenging life, end of life, and death events.

Rusty understands the challenges faced by individuals whose capacity is declining and how upsetting the loss of a loved one can be. He understands he may not be able to eliminate his client’s grief from loss, but he strives to provide clients with peace of mind. Rusty works directly with client’s long term care issues, including Medicaid, Veteran’s Benefits, Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Special Needs Planning.

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.

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