Having “the talk” with your parents about retirement and aging usually finds people primarily focusing on the financial aspects such as wills, estates, and financial considerations for care in one’s later years.
If you’ve gotten through that part of “the talk” congratulations!
However, “the talk” has a number of parts to it and what is often the toughest to talk about, but may be the most important one to have, is the focus on the health needs for retirees and seniors.
According to a recent AARP study, only 26% of 65-74-year-olds partake in regular physical activity. After the age of 70 it gets worse; only 16% are active regularly. This can be bad news indeed for long-term health and is something that needs to be discussed during ‘the Talk’.
After all, common sense tells us that if you don’t feel good in retirement, you won’t enjoy it as much and matters related to health, including exercise, need to be discussed and incorporated into any retirement plan.
It’s no secret that discussing health with your parents can be a difficult thing. I know it was for me. However, there are many times I wish I’d discussed with my parents their need to exercise and to involve me in their health decisions. I didn’t have these discussions and my mom passed away with an illness that she shielded her entire family from. Having these discussions can prevent this from happening to you.
These discussions may not be easy to start, but there can be openings or ice breakers to help bring up these topics. Often a recent health issue for a parent or friend or family member can provide the opportunity. Parents will often look to their educated, and hopefully healthy, child as a resource in discussing the latest in the area of health and eating well.
Here’s five questions that should be discussed with your retiring or retired parents during the “health” part of “the talk”:
1) Do you have regular physical checkups?
Who are the doctors that you work with? Create a list and put reminders of your parents’ checkups on your own calendar.
2) Do you have an updated list of all the medications you take?
Spend some time ensuring that your parents aren’t using out dated or expired medications. Make sure that you become aware of all existing medical conditions and any prescribed treatments for your parents.
3) Have you made absolutely clear to your family members your end-of life wishes?
This includes when and if they should terminate life support, and do you have an Advanced Health Care Directive?
4) Do you have stress in your life, and if so, do you have a plan for eliminating as much of it as possible?
5) How healthy is your diet and what are your plans for getting some regular exercise?
Remember that for all of us, regardless of age, body and mind are inextricably intertwined. When your parents feel good mentally and are happy, they have more energy and want to do more things. When they feel great physically, their mind is clearer and their thoughts are more positive. This will lead to a safe and long retirement.
For retirees, remember that a healthy retirement also means a happy one. Be open to discussing these matters with your loved ones, they can be part of the process and will be very willing to help out in whatever way possible. This doesn’t mean being a burden, it means letting people who care about you know what’s going on. This way you also have the opportunity to share all of the good things you’re discovering in your retired life with others for as long a time as possible.
Other articles in this series on “the talk”: