Caring for Your Aging Mom

Caring for Your Aging Mom
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Mom’s aging.  And the faithful caregiver who has been there for you throughout your life may now be starting to show signs of aging like forgetfulness or anxiety over making big decisions.  If dad’s passed away or unable to help care for mom, sooner than later, whether she wants to admit it or not, she will need your help.

As life expectancy increases, and baby boomers advance well into senior years of their own, the need for caregiving will only continue to rise. But who will provide caregiving for mom once her memory really fades or she needs regular nursing care?  What happens if a nursing home is necessary?  Do you know whether mom has a plan for nursing care expenses if she might need it?  What legal documents does she have in place to express her wishes for care?

According to Wealth Psychology Expert and Coach Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, 61% of women would rather talk about their own death than money.  Many older women were raised thinking that “it’s a man’s job to manage money,” and therefore, women are often uncomfortable talking about money or finances or may simply be unaware of their own financial situation.  Yet, you may find in your conversations with mom about planning for the future that she’s grateful to have help with these issues. As she continues to age, it’s more important than ever to plan a discussion now.

Here are some tips on how to broach the sensitive subjects of money and mortality with mom.

Schedule a time: This can be an overwhelming topic, but don’t ignore it. Scheduling dedicated time to open the dialogue and creating a timeline to complete the basic estate planning documents can make the process more manageable and keep everyone involved accountable.

Share your knowledge:  Share what you know about what the documents mean, how and when they come into play, as well as what happens if there’s no estate plan in place. Remind mom that this is her chance to ensure that her wishes are carried out.

Ask questions: If your mom is still in a sound state of mind, she is in a position to be involved in the decision-making. Ask her open-ended questions like what, if any, estate planning your mom or parents may have done.  Start by asking if she has met with a Las Cruces estate planning attorney to have a Will, a Power of Attorney, a Health Care Proxy and a Living Will created.  Document as much as possible without judgment. Talking about planning for incapacity may be a harder conversation. What resources are available if needed for long-term care? If she owns a long-term care insurance policy, find out where it is so you can access it if and when the time comes. Does her estate plan include a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT) or has any Medicaid planning been done? Our article, What Is an Estate Planning Checkup? may be a helpful guide for these questions.

Share your plan: Sharing your ideas and discussing your own plans can ease tension and help eliminate fears. It shows your mom that she’s not alone in the planning process. If she has not had any legal planning completed yet, explain what you have done for your own family and explain why it’s important for you as a parent, and for her as a grandmother, to take care of this.

Leave the conversation open-ended: The key to these planning conversations is empathy because many seniors are experiencing a variety of emotions. Reassure mom that you’re available for future conversations and will plan to check back in at the times set forth in the timeline you created together.

You’ll also want to talk with mom about providing information for financial, legal, and medical contacts. This can be a little overwhelming, so it may help to break this into a series of categories. Try setting a deadline for one checklist a week.

This is the contact information you’ll want to gather:

Legal and Financial

  • Estate Planning Attorney
  • CPA
  • Financial Advisor
  • Retirement Accounts
  • Pension
  • Social Security
  • Investments
  • Checking and Savings
  • Insurance Policies – Home, Auto, Umbrella


  • Primary Care Physician
  • Pharmacist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Any other health care providers
  • Medicare or Health Insurance Company


  • Electricity
  • Mortgage or Rent
  • Cable
  • Landscaper
  • Telephone
  • Auto Loan or Lease Payments

Online Accounts

  • Social Media
  • Websites
  • Streaming Subscriptions

Community Contacts

  • Community Organizations
  • Homeowner’s Association
  • House of Worship

These are not easy conversations for many adults, so be patient with your mom. It may be hard for her to become comfortable with sharing this kind of information or perhaps she doesn’t know the answers to many of these questions, so there might be quite a bit of investigative work involved.  Remember to schedule several times to meet with her so that neither of you becomes overwhelmed. The time you spend now to gather her information and gain an understanding of the support available to her should she become incapacitated will be invaluable in the future.

Remember that you are not alone in having these challenging conversations!  Contact Elder Law Attorney Michele Ungvarsky for a consultation to ask about how to approach these discussions with mom or create the planning documents that mom might need.