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Experts say aging couples should have difficult conversations about future before crisis situations

More American residents find themselves in caregiving roles

DETROIT – As baby boomers age, more Americans are finding themselves in a caregiving role. But is your family preparing for that possibility?

In the emergency room, there's a major difference between families that have discusses difficult issues in advance and those who haven't. As tough as it is, it's a conversation that needs to be had more than once.

Joyce Mitchell, 86, loves the movie theater in her retirement community.

"I enjoy it immensely," Mitchell said.

She moved to the retirement community after her husband, Roger, died in 2013.

"I didn't want to shovel the snow and I didn't want to mow the grass -- you know, all the basic housekeeping things," Mitchell said.

Over 57 years of marriage, the Mitchells traveled the world together, but they also talked about where they'd like to live when the time came to move.

"They were probably in their 70s when they started talking about it seriously and visiting place," geriatrician Dr. Karli Urban said. "They had some health issues, but it wasn't looming."

Urban said she recommends these types of conversations.

"None of us, early on, unfortunately, kind of know what the future holds," Urban said. "But there are certain things all of us really need to do."

It's important to make living arrangements and get legal paperwork in order before a crisis situation.

"I encourage people to look at it not so much as a depressing thing to do, but more of a great way to make your wishes known to your loved one," Urban said. "I encourage people to just sit down and say, 'Hey, what's important to you? What would you like?'"

For the Mitchells, those discussions paid off.

"I think she took to it so well and so quick that I never did worry about her here, and I saw her happy," her daughter, Laura Mitchell, said.

Couples should discuss where they want to live as well as what kind of care they want. Many families wait until it's too late and it makes the situation for difficult.


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