What to Do When Your Parents Get Sick

When they need health care, aging parents often expect their adult children to offer support. Are you prepared?

If an aging loved one was seriously ill, would you know what to do? For many intelligent and successful people, the answer is “No.”

The idea of a parent getting sick is scary and upsetting, and when it actually happens, that fear is often accompanied by an overwhelming amount of stress. Busy executives, especially those who are parents themselves, may not be able to step away from their other obligations to focus on their sick loved one. It’s especially challenging when the person who’s sick doesn’t live nearby.

Put your family in a better position by planning ahead of time. Start having conversations about health care now.

  1. Talk with your family. Many health issues are easy to overlook, especially if you aren’t able to see each other in person, so check in with your parents about their current health. Ask when they last saw a doctor, and about their hopes and expectations for future care. Involve other family members in the process, so that everyone is on the same page. Talking things out now will help you avoid the conflicts that can arise if there are disagreements about treatment.
  2. Talk with your colleagues or employer.  If you know that your parents are relying on you to look out for them as they age, make sure you understand the benefits your company offers. Do they provide paid family leave for employees who are caring for a seriously ill family member? If you expect to need time off to care for a loved one in the near future, talk with your team so that they feel equipped to continue in your absence.

    Consider asking your company to partner with a health advisory company. (In this article, Jere Simpson, CEO of Atlas UP, shares how doing so has benefited his team.) Health advisors can provide valuable support and guidance for employees when they or their loved ones are coping with a health issue.
  3. Talk with a health advisor. If your company doesn’t have a relationship with a health advisory company, it may make sense for you to hire a health advisor directly. Navigating the healthcare system on behalf of an aging loved one is complex and challenging—and it can take a toll on your own health. 

    Just as you would hire an expert to help manage your parents’ finances, it makes sense to hire an expert to manage their health. In fact, as I recently discussed with Frazer Rice on the Wealth Actually podcast, wealth planning and healthcare planning are closely intertwined.

Among other things, health advisors offer expert insights and recommendations on:

  • Finding top doctors and hospitals in a particular area
  • Determining if it’s appropriate to travel for treatment elsewhere
  • Arranging for appointments, including second opinions
  • Researching and evaluating treatment options for new diagnoses and chronic conditions
  • Coordinating care between providers
  • Selecting home care providers and long-term care facilities

If you need support on a healthcare issue, whether it’s for yourself or a loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Have healthcare questions?

Our team of expert health advisors can help.

Schedule a Consultation