Having Tough Conversations With Aging Parents

Broaching topics like driving, finances, and living situations with an aging loved one is never easy. You know that it’s time to have a conversation. But where do you begin? And how do you start the conversation without being too assertive? If you’re concerned about an aging loved one, and think it’s time for some real talk, then you’re in luck and you’ll definitely want to listen to episode 27 of Sage Aging!

This Week’s Guest

My guest this week is Catherine Hodder. Catherine is an estate planning attorney turned author whose book estate planning for the sandwich generation how to help your parents and protect your kids debuted as a number one Amazon bestseller in new releases for wills. Perhaps more importantly, Catherine has held the title of caregiver as well. So she knows about these conversations and knows where all of you are coming from having had the benefit of seeing caregiving from both sides. Catherine has a lot to offer as we talk about approaching difficult conversations with our aging loved ones.

A Few Takeaways

I came away with so many great nuggets of insight, but here are the ones that stood out to me the most:

  • “The conversation” is not just one conversation, but a series of conversations that build on one another.
  • The family dynamic is a heavy contributor to the success of carrying out the long-term plan. In Catherine’s words, “Everybody wants to do the right thing. The problem is that people have differing opinions about what the right thing is.” That’s a great illustration of why having a documented long-term plan is so important!
  • Putting your own long-term plans in place is just as important as helping your parents get their affairs in order. Especially if you are a member of the Sandwich Generation and are caring for children at the same time.
Links & Resources Mentioned
Time for a giveaway!

Win a copy of Catherine Hodder’s book. Entering is free and easy, but registration closes on October 9, 2020, so click here to enter now.

Next Week

1 in 4 U.S. adults is a victim of cybercrime each year. In 2019 the financial loss suffered by victims of reported cybercrime was $3.5 billion. That is a big number but doesn’t come close to representing the true losses suffered as cybercrime is severely underreported. Join me and Mark Batchelor of Cybercrime Support Network next week as we dig a little deeper and learn how to protect ourselves and what to do if we are victims of cybercrime.

Thanks for listening!

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Closed Captioning

Having Tough Conversations With Aging Parents – Episode 27

Recorded September 2020


Liz Craven, Catherine Hodder


Liz Craven  00:00

Thank you for listening to the Sage Aging podcast. This episode is brought to you by Polk ElderCare Guide your guide to all things senior care and resources available in both English and Spanish. You can find the guide at Polkeldercare.com.


Liz Craven  00:18

Broaching topics like driving finances and living situations with an aging loved one is never easy. You know that it’s time to have a conversation. But where do you begin? And how do you start the conversation without being too assertive? If you’re concerned about an aging loved one, and think it’s time for some real talk, then you’re in luck, and this is the podcast episode for you.


Liz Craven  00:51

Welcome to the Sage Aging podcast. I’m your host Liz Craven. The mission of Sage Aging is to help you connect to information and resources that will empower you to master the aging and caregiving journey. Weekly, I’ll bring you great conversations with industry professionals and others to shed some light on topics of aging, and to empower you to take charge of your journey. So grab a cup of coffee, or maybe a cool glass of lemonade, and sit back and relax as we chat. Are you ready? Hit subscribe now. And let’s get started.


Liz Craven  01:28

Hi there and welcome to Episode 27 of the Sage Aging podcast. We’ve all been faced with tough conversations at one point or another. By nature. It’s something that we all try to avoid. Sometimes because it’ll be uncomfortable. But more often because we’re afraid of the fallout that will follow. We don’t want to risk damaging a relationship or making waves that will be difficult to come. Any hard conversation is intimidating. But talking to an aging loved one about things like driving finances, living situations and long term planning takes the cake. Your parents who’ve always been the ones to lead you now need you to step up and lead them. It’s a role reversal that most of us wish didn’t have to happen. If you find yourself in that situation, take a deep breath. Everything’s gonna be okay. And today’s guest is going to help us learn how to approach these difficult conversations. My guest today is Catherine Hodder. Catherine is an estate planning attorney turned author whose book estate planning for the sandwich generation how to help your parents and protect your kids debuted as a number one Amazon best seller in new releases for wills. Perhaps more importantly, Catherine has held the title of caregiver as well. So she knows about these conversations and knows where all of you are coming from having had the benefit of seeing caregiving from both sides. Catherine has a lot to offer as we talk about approaching difficult conversations with our aging loved ones. You’ll find all of Catherine’s contact information and links to her website and book in the show notes. And you’ll also find that in the blog post for Episode 27 at Sage aging.us. Welcome to the show. Catherine. Thanks so much for joining me.


Catherine Hodder  03:22

Oh, hi, Liz. I’m happy to be here.


Liz Craven  03:25

Well, as I mentioned in the introduction, you bring an interesting perspective to this conversation as someone who’s experienced it in both personal and professional ways. And we’re going to talk more about your book in a bit. But first, let’s talk a little bit about you and your caregiving journey.


Catherine Hodder  03:43

You know, I am in the typical sandwich generation where I have young children as well as aging parents. I was a corporate attorney. And actually it’s because of caregiving that I switched my career. When my father began what became a 10 year battle with Alzheimer’s, I realized how important and impactful proper estate planning was. So he luckily had, you know, all the documents, and we used every single one throughout his illness and death. So that really woke me up to the fact that because he had his affairs organized, and he had proper estate planning done, we could focus on his care rather than dealing with red tape and chaos as happens when parents get older and are suddenly hospitalized.


Liz Craven  04:33

That is such a great perspective about the caregiving journey, the fact that you experienced it from both sides and how amazing that it puts you in a position where you could make a choice to change your career to make a difference for other people. I love that.


Catherine Hodder  04:48

Thank you. When I took a little time off from corporate and banking law, when my kids were very young to stay home with them. And when I went back, I really wanted to focus on estate planning because there was a lot of Even as an attorney, I didn’t know. And I felt people should know this. So I focused my practice on helping others mainly in the sandwich generation, because they have older parents that they have to worry about and make sure that they have proper estate planning documents, as well as that they have their own estate planning and have guardians for their children, or should something happen. So that’s really what I wanted to focus on of like, hey, learn for me, it doesn’t always have to be chaos.


Liz Craven  05:28

Right? The Sandwich Generation really does have a unique position, because you’re right, they do need to make plans for if something happens to them, then what, who cares for the kids and who steps in to fill that caregiver role for mom and dad, there have to be logistics in place for all of that. And sandwich generation folks are thinking of it from both ends. So I would imagine as an attorney, that you dealt with the same thing for yourself making plans for your children, and at the same time making plans for your aging loved ones, your parents, did you have all of your plans and documents in place? Or is that something that you focused more upon after you found the value in it?


Catherine Hodder  06:11

Well, you know, that’s a great question. Because, you know, in law school, you do take estate planning as part of your curriculum. And I always knew was important. And so, you know, we had wills because we had young children, but getting the other documents such as power of attorney, setting up trusts, and, you know, living wills, especially, I realized how critical these documents are. And it’s not so much to help me, but to protect my family, and to take a lot of stress off of them. So it really reinforced our plans. And again, my father had organized everything very well. So we have the benefit of that. And so I sort of modeled what he had done.


Liz Craven  06:53

So you didn’t have to approach that conversation from your end with your parents, because they had already done that themselves.


Catherine Hodder  07:00

Well, yes, but long before and sort of what prompted, I guess, my father to get things organized is long before his illness, he had always talked to me about finances and things like that, and, and he had just sort of mentioned off the cuff, you know, hey, if anything ever happened to me, where I’m in a coal mine, you know, permanent coma or anything like that, you know, I know your mother, she would want to take every step necessary to keep me alive. That’s not how I want to go, you know, if it’s my time, it’s my time and, and I said, Well, that’s great, Dad, I’ll respect your wishes. But just understand that if something happened, I’m not about to get in a fight with Mom, you know, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna challenge her. So if you feel very strongly about this, then go to an attorney and get a living will drafted and he did that got the rest of his estate planning done. And thank goodness for that. Because I, you know, we actually happened where my father was hospitalized, you know, six months before he died. And the situation presented itself where we had to follow the instructions of his living well, but not the way you would think it would happen. So he had a blockage. And he couldn’t eat, couldn’t swallow. And the doctors had sort of said, Well, we could do surgery. And this is when he was in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, they said we could do surgery, but likely he would not survive it. Or we could do nothing. And he may not survive the blockage. And so we are sort of spinning like, oh, my goodness, you know, my mother was frantic, like, what, what can we do for him? And, you know, I said, Look, remember, dad had this document, let’s read the document. And it said, you know, clearly, if I’m, in a situation like this, don’t do anything. So we had comfort in the fact that we were honoring his wishes. And it took a lot of burden off of our shoulders that this was his decision, not ours. Well, miraculously, the blockage cleared up. So we had six more months with him, which was wonderful. But also, you know, we sort of did the Monday morning quarterbacking of like, what if, you know, we did the surgery, and he didn’t survive? And thank goodness, we didn’t have to have any of that decision making in place. So it really was from that conversation with my father that saved us a lot of grief.


Liz Craven  09:17

Boy, what a gift that was to your whole family. I I can’t even imagine having to make those make or break decisions in an emotional state. And that really is the importance of pre planning.


Catherine Hodder  09:31

Yes. And honestly, from dealing with my clients, when a crisis happens. Everybody wants to do the right thing. The problem is that people have differing opinions of what the right thing is, and right. You know, they may say, Well, I had one conversation and they said this and somebody says why to another conversation and to have it clearly spelled out, just takes away the family drama.


Liz Craven  09:57

Right. Well, the family dynamic really can make or break the situation as well. I mean, that is something I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of where family members just can’t agree on what the best thing is. And so pre planning is something that I would always recommend to people because of that.


Catherine Hodder  10:18

Yes, absolutely, I would, too.


Liz Craven  10:20

Okay, so let’s talk about the conversation itself. You know, you were really lucky, you didn’t have to have that conversation. I didn’t have that conversation and should have, and my mother got sick way too young. Before we could actually sit down and put all of her affairs in place. On the other side of the coin, my father and mother in law had everything spelled out. And like you, the situation with both of them was much easier as it relates to the care they would receive and how things would go. So as a child of an aging parent, how on earth do you begin the process of this conversation without being too assertive?


Catherine Hodder  11:03

Well, that’s Yeah, it’s a delicate dance, if you will. So first of all, recognize that it’s not going to be one conversation, but a series of ongoing conversations that should be done in a non threatening manner. It’s difficult because your parents are getting to a place where they may need to be cared for, which is a switching of roles, like they’re always the ones protecting you, they may not be comfortable with the role of you, you helping them. But I think just come from a place of, you know, asking them like, Hey, Mom and Dad, I want to help you as you age, but I don’t know what that looks like. So help me to understand what you would like it puts them in control of decision making, and, and really come at it from a I want to help care for you, or I want to follow your wishes, as opposed to, Hey, who’s going to get the china or, you know, what are you planning to do with the house and all that type of thing, you can eventually work into those conversations. But the first thing is about, you know, health care, and how they want to live out their final years, and they’ve had experience probably with their parents, and you can talk to them about what your experience has been when your parents were getting old and facing terminal illnesses. So it gets them thinking about it. But it is something that you have to approach generally and, and respect, you know, their feelings.


Liz Craven  12:31

Good point. You know, one of the things that in retrospect, I wish I would have approached it this way with my mother, there are a few questions that you really need to consider and not that you would ask them directly this way. But you need the answer to a few things to help your parents properly prepare. The first of those would be what do you want? What do your later years look like? What do you want that to look like? The next question would be what do you have? What are the assets? What are we working with? If you needed care tomorrow? What do we have to work with? What does that look like? The next is? What do we need? Because what you want? And what you have might not match? And so then you have to include that in the discussion. What do we need to achieve your ideal want? And so what in terms of somebody who has that analytical brain like mine? That is a great way to approach that conversation just for yourself in mentally preparing yourself for that conversation? What information are you really seeking? And how can you best be a catalyst to make mom and dad’s wants and ideal situation true?


Catherine Hodder  13:51

Yes, absolutely. And in my book, you know, half of it is about estate planning. The other half is how to talk to your parents and questions to ask conversation prompts to bring up to sort of introduce topics, but there’s really five main topics that you should have with your parents. One is, you know, like you’re saying the healthcare. One is finances, you know, do you have the funds to carry out your wishes, then you have aging? You know, do you want to age in place? Or should we look at senior living options. There’s also end of life care, you know, the big thing of, you know, hey, if you are in a terminal illness, how do you want those decisions handled. And then finally, I call it the legacy conversation, which is, you know, more of preserving the history, get the great stories about their past and past relatives, get the names on the backs of pictures and, and the stories behind pictures and preserve the family recipes, because you never know it could be too late. You’ll never get that information. So there’s really five conversations that you can weave in and out of


Liz Craven  14:59

And I want to remind our listeners of the title of your book because I want you to go look it up. It’s called estate planning for the sandwich generation, how to help your parents and protect your kids. And it’s on Amazon. And you can also find it at Barnes and Noble. Is that right? Yes, that’s correct. Okay, great. And we’ll leave links to Catherine’s website, and everywhere that you can find her in the show notes. And in the blog post for this episode, which is number 27. You can find that at Sageaging.us. Because I think this is a great tool that people will find very helpful as they’re navigating this in their own family.


Liz Craven  15:43

I’ve got great news, we’re giving away a copy of Catherine Hodders book, estate planning for the sandwich generation, how to help your parents and protect your kids. Entering is free and easy. Head over to Sage aging.us for more information and to get your name in the hat, and trees close on Friday, October 9. So go ahead and enter now. Now let’s get back to our interview.


Liz Craven  16:12

So the word family, that’s a great segue into the next question, because family dynamics really play a large part in these conversations, who should be included in these conversations? And should there at some point be kind of a family meeting about these topics?


Catherine Hodder  16:32

Well, you know, it depends on your family situation. But I generally advise that it should be immediate family, your mother may love your spouse like a son. But in talking about very personal issues, such as money and health, they may be comfortable just talking with their children. So I sort of feel you know, make it intimate, rather than a pay world, you know, out of family reunion and bring up these topics. So really just have, you know, immediate family involved. And really just come at it not as a Hey, we want to know what you have. But you know, what are things that are important to you have a sort of talk with your siblings or whoever is going to be involved in the meeting to be like, Look, this is not a time to bring up past transgressions, real or perceived. It’s not a time to, you know, settle disputes, it’s a time to hear from them of what they’re thinking, and then we can help them get there.


Liz Craven  17:35

That’s a really good point. because inevitably, there is some family drama, I think that I’ve been very lucky in my situations, because we haven’t run into any of that. But, you know, when it was when it came down to it, even though we were late to the game, to get my mom’s affairs in order, we did it. And we determined everybody’s roles, prior to things getting hairy. And the same with my in laws, you know, everybody’s role had already been determined as it relates to legalities and decisions. And so then we were left to just be a family and love on one another. And, you know, we all get along. So the decision making processes were not difficult for us. We were all on the same page, because it was what our parents wanted. But I know that not a lot of families, or I shouldn’t say not a lot of families. I think a lot of families do have that situation. But there are many who don’t and who find a lot of drama and unwanted and unnecessary upheaval in the family.


Catherine Hodder  18:39

Yeah. And so like you said, you know, planning is key, having things written down. So really, there’s no room for disputes or arguments. And, you know, I’ve always said to my clients, you know, chaos is always going to happen. But if you have certain plans in place, you’re dealing with caring for your family, rather than going through red tape or trying to, you know, make these decisions under crisis conditions.


Liz Craven  19:04

Yeah, and don’t you think that certain personalities lend themselves to certain roles in a situation like this? I know, in my family, my mother referred to me as the mommy daughter. And, you know, I was the one who she wanted to drive the bus. And then you know, one of my other siblings was the daughter that she wanted to pop in on often or come check on me. Come have your nails done with me, you know, those types of things. And then the other daughter was the one she was going to share with like a teenager and talk about just stuff. And it was really interesting how all of those roles presented themselves not by our doing but by hers and how she viewed the relationship with each one of us. It was pretty incredible.


Catherine Hodder  19:52

Yes, so when my father started his illness and now we are caring for my mother, I have one sister and she is more of The medical, you know, I call her the medical guru. So, you know, she was going to appointments with my parents writing everything down, talking to doctors, making sure that prescriptions were filled and, and things like that. And I was the sort of financial legal, so I would handle the medical paperwork. And, and so it was good because my mother sort of when she had an issue, she would kind of know who to call, depending on the category, so everybody can bring their talents to helping out.


Liz Craven  20:33

A family that works together will have a much better journey, then those who work against one another. Yes. What do you recommend when parents refuse to talk?


Catherine Hodder  20:44

Well, and that’s that can be common, as I mentioned, you know, they may not be comfortable with switching roles, as one being taken care of, they might, in their later years, be disappointed in the way that they their life turned out, or maybe they made some financial mistakes, or they’re in debt, and they really don’t want to admit how things could get bad, or generationally. Our parents really didn’t talk about money with other people, you know, they didn’t really share all that. So there are a lot of challenges to that. So as I mentioned, in my book, I have certain conversation prompts to introduce topics like one is talking about the plans you’ve made, and then asking their advice, because parents love to give, give advice. So for example, Hey, mom and dad, my husband and I are putting together our estate plans. And if something happens to both of us, I’m having my sister make our financial medical decisions. Do you have something like that setup? What should we know about? So there’s ways to introduce difficult topics, one is seeking their advice. If you’re really being stonewalled, where they just won’t discuss it, they just are being very obstinate. a suggestion is to write a letter to them of Dear Mom and Dad, you know, I’m concerned about you as you age. Help me to help you. And here’s some questions I’d like you to address. And then they could do it on their own time under their own control, they could think about it and get back to you or like some just maybe get my book of questions and highlight and leave, leave it around for them to, you know, look at at their leisure.


Liz Craven  22:26

That’s a great idea. Sometimes you have to really ease in, and don’t you think that it’s good to have these conversations, especially when someone is resistant? In a neutral location? Yes, absolutely.


Catherine Hodder  22:38

I mean, you know, as I said, you know, don’t do it around a big family reunion, or where there’s a lot of people, I mean, obviously, it’s advantageous, when you have all your families together as to, you know, take an opportunity, but do it away from everyone else in a quiet space, non threatening, you know, even doing something enjoyable, like taking a walk or hanging out over tea. So try to make it non threatening, really about how to follow their wishes, how to take care of them.


Liz Craven  23:10

Good advice, Do you often find that one spouse is willing to talk and the other one isn’t? And how do you handle that?


Catherine Hodder  23:20

I’ve found that generally, either the parents together, you know, we’ll talk or won’t talk it. But, you know, obviously, if there’s one who’s more forthcoming, you know, try and use that resource and get as much information as possible, and then perhaps say, Hey, Mom, dad told me all the things that he wants, is that the same thing you want? Or do you have other ideas and a lot of time approaching it, instead of, you know, the broad, like, What do you want? Because that’s kind of a difficult thing to think about, you know, if like, well, I don’t, I don’t know what I want. There could be so many exam scenarios, but you could say, Hey, Dad said he wants, you know, this specific thing. If he is at a terminal stage, he doesn’t want to be hooked up to machines. Is that what you want? And ask him more like, you know, they can think of like, what they don’t want, you know, so you can phrase things that way?


Liz Craven  24:10

That is such a good tip. Because I think in any conversation, really, when you think about it, if you ask a very broad question, you’re going to get a very broad answer back. And we talked about this. In one of our recent episodes, we were talking about caregivers asking for health and how sometimes people will say if there’s anything that I can do to help you let me know. And then on the other end, the caregiver is saying, Oh my gosh, I don’t even know how to respond to that. My life is so overwhelming, right? Really, you know, what do I say? And so the specificity of a statement really is important. So for the person offering the help, it should be Hey, how about I dropped by some groceries for you? Next week, or how about I come by and sit with moms? So you can have 30 minutes to yourself? You know, those kinds of things that are very helpful on? Yeah, yeah. And especially as it relates to this type of conversation, like you said before, this can be multiple conversations, and they can be casual, just hanging out and you know, doing a project together gardening together, or whatever it is that you do for fun, in a casual manner, bringing up hey, you know, my friend, her mom just moved in with her, because she was needing a little bit of extra help with some of the upkeep of the house, the big house just got to be too much for her. Have you thought about what you want when you get to that point? And if you get to that point?


Catherine Hodder  25:45

yes, that’s it, that’s actually a great, you know, using other experiences, to run it by them. Because you may get a very strong reaction that like, they wouldn’t have volunteered otherwise.


Liz Craven  25:58

Right? It’s always easier to respond in response to somebody else’s life, isn’t it?


Catherine Hodder  26:03

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Do whatever, you can, right?


Liz Craven  26:08

So tell me about your kids. Have you had these conversations with your kids? How old are they now? Well, so now


Catherine Hodder  26:14

They are starting High School. And it’s funny because my daughter, you know, I do talk to them about things. And I think they’re a little bit maybe too aware of things that could happen, you know, things that can happen. But, you know, it’s important that we talk about this. And I think they have a good understanding about planning about, you know, making wishes known of having open communication with family. And they see, you know, how, you know, my husband and I care for our, for our parents, and how involved we are and how we try to keep supporting their decisions. I feel open communication is a great thing for families


Liz Craven  26:19

I agree wholeheartedly. I have two grown daughters, myself, and they have heard it all. And they’ve seen it all, because, you know, they grew up with me working in the eldercare industry, they grew up with it surrounding them. So it was no surprise to them. And actually, I think my younger daughter, who’s now 26, maybe a year or so ago, actually broached the topic again and said, Hey, Mom, I’m just making sure I’m pretty sure we’ve talked about this before, but you’ve got everything in place. Right? Well, I need to know.


Catherine Hodder  27:25

Well, and another thing I should I should mention is that a lot of people don’t realize that once your your child turns 18, even though you might be paying for all their medical care, they have to give you a power of attorney to get medical information. Because hospitals because of HIPAA regulations, hospitals, or doctors may not release it to you, which sounds crazy again, if you’re paying for the medical care and actually in, in California, where I live, I was just notified about something with my son, if you’re 14 or older, like, you know, my son’s 14. Wow, you know, he would know what that you know, he’s sort of like, What do I say? I’m like, just say, they can talk to me. He’s like, okay, you know, I mean, he’s sort of like, why do I have that power?


Liz Craven  28:10

Wow, that’s incredible at 14.


Catherine Hodder  28:12

Yeah. So that was surprising, even to me. So


Liz Craven  28:16

It’s important. And I think that people with kids who are just aging into adulthood need to be aware of that. And it’s really a good idea for them to start their own estate planning. And I don’t mean estate planning in the sense of things that you own and finances, but more in the sense of having documents in place so that if something happens, there is some direction, who can they talk? Who can the medical professionals talk to who can make decisions, things like that. And I think a lot of people just don’t realize that as an 18 year old, I never did more. And I didn’t do that for my kids until much later when I realized it was real important and said, Hey, you guys, we need to get this stuff done now. You never know. Yes, exactly, unfortunately. Well, I’m glad I think that’s a great conversation for a lot of people who are listening to this program because we many of us have children. And I know that there are a lot of people listening who have little children. And that just brings all of this full circle because you don’t have to worry about one estate plan and long term care visioning. You have to worry about your own and your parents if they haven’t done it prior. So super important conversation. You said something earlier that really piqued my interest and that was about in the questions to ask and things, the topics to bring up with your loved ones about preserving family history. And I love love love that my mother in law did that and even made a notebook of every item that she was passing on to us where they came from there. History in the family who it belonged to before, just incredible, incredible detail about everything. And I love that. So when you were going through this with your family, are there some things that were revealed to you, that meant something special to you that you didn’t know, before that you wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t been through that exercise?


Catherine Hodder  30:23

You know, what was great is that my family, I come from a lot of family of writers. So when my aunt passed, or my father passed, my cousin actually came and gathered all these photos and logs about their travels that we had no idea about, and it was just so much fun to hear them in their own voices, about, you know, the experiences they had. So I mean, I’m strongly, you know, urge people to save things because you don’t realize how precious they are until it’s too late. And so that was that was really fun to hear them talking about growing up. And and, you know, I shared it with my children, because, you know, they’re about the same age, and it’s just so interesting to see the differences and the similarities.


Liz Craven  31:15

Have you ever ventured to any of the places that they had written about?


Catherine Hodder  31:19

Uh, yes, actually. So there’s a it’s in our family that we had a very small island up in the Seattle area. So yeah, I’ll Tacoma where they had a cabin and they would, my father lived on the East Coast with his family, and they would drive across country in the, in the 40s, to go to this island. And after my father passed, I finally you know, got there to this island, which was just really cool.


Liz Craven  31:48

Oh, I bet that was an amazing experience having the background of those writings.


Catherine Hodder  31:53

Yes, yes.


Liz Craven  31:54

So cool. Well, Catherine, thank you so much for being here with me today. Before we get finished. Tell us more about your book.


Catherine Hodder  32:02

My book is really designed in two parts. First part is to get your own house in order. So I have 10 simple steps to put together an estate plan for yourself the things to think about the things to consider. And then once you do that, you are then armed because then you know, sort of the decisions to be made or the questions to ask, then the second part is to bring your parents into it saying, hey, Mama, Dad, I just completed all my estate planning. These are the decisions I made, what do you think about it? What are the wishes you have for this type of thing? And what estate planning documents? do you have? Or do you need? You know, on my website, I do have a, what I call it a 911 binder. That’s a place where when I would do documents for clients, I would give them this binder and as inserts for their legal documents. But as well as, here’s where you put financial information. Here’s where you put passwords. Here’s where you put wishes for funeral or different things that can be helpful like place for the medications you take and why. So might be something that you can talk with your parents of like, what have you done so far, let’s make a binder for you and see what’s missing that we can fill in. And in the talks with the parents, as I said, there’s questions to ask and conversation prompts, like ways to work in a conversation, especially if it’s difficult.


Liz Craven  33:27

Fantastic, what a wonderful tool, I can tell you that something like that would have been so very helpful to us as our family worked through all of those things, and honestly, would be a benefit and a tool to those of you who are just now beginning your own planning process. To be able to organize things in one place. This is a tool that you can use alongside your efforts with your attorney, and put everything in one place. I know at my home, we do have a folder that has everything and it’s locked away in our fire safe so that my kids know, if something happened, this is exactly where I would go to find all this stuff. That’s but having that tool to assist people in setting up that plan is terrific. And by the way, Catherine has very generously offered to give away a signed copy of her book. And so if you want to learn more about that, go to Sageaging.us. And you’ll find all of the details to enter that contest there. And thank you for generously offering that I am so excited that we get to give that tool to somebody who’s listening.


Catherine Hodder  34:35

Yes, no, I’m happy to give it away and educate others about it because it’s such an important topic. I really am passionate about letting others know how it doesn’t have to be so chaotic.


Liz Craven  34:49

I love that there is such a community of people like you who are willing to put all of that out there because I’ve encountered it from all over the country and also places outside of the US as well. People saying, hey, let me come be a guest on your podcast. And let me share this because I think it’ll make someone’s life better. So I appreciate you so much for being one of those, of course. And the last question that I’ll ask you, it’s my same last question. Anyone who’s been listening for a while knows, I’m going to say, what resources what other resources, whether they be books or websites, videos, movies, anything you can think of? Is there anything that you’d like to point our listeners to if they want to dig deeper on this topic?


Catherine Hodder  35:34

One place, obviously, is my website, www.hodderink.com. And I have articles about caregiving about family dynamics and about estate planning. Also, AARP is a great resource for Caregiving topics, and really the internet in general. And particularly, I found it helpful to reach out if you’re in the sandwich generation actively caring for parents, is looking into caregiver support groups, because I found it helpful. When my father was going through this, to hear about what other people were going through and to see what the future held, things I had to think about or situations we would face. So there is a lot out there I would say is, is a lot of times caregivers get so stuck in the chaos of it, they don’t realize there’s a lot of resources to help.


Liz Craven  36:33

All good advice. And I will be sure to provide links to everything that Catherine just mentioned in the show notes and in the blog post for Episode 27. And you can find that at Sage aging.us. Well, thank you, Catherine, for being here. We appreciate you so much. And thank you to my listeners, thank you for being here and spending a few minutes with me each week. I hope that you’re finding value in conversations like the one that we’ve been having today. And if you have ideas about things that you’d like for us to approach, then please let me know because this podcast is for you. This is to make your life easier and to connect you to the tools and resources that you need to navigate this journey. You are capable. And you can do this. What you’re doing as a caregiver, you’re my heroes. I’ve been in your shoes, I know that it’s hard, but I also know that it can be one of the most joyful journeys that you ever take. So we appreciate you. We appreciate you tuning in, pass it on to a friend and let him know to join us on the stage aging podcast. Thanks for listening everyone and we’ll talk soon

Liz Craven

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As I’ve been preparing to launch this podcast I’ve enjoyed revisiting stages of my own life and reflecting on how this topic became such a passion for me. While I’ve built my career on helping older adults and their families connect to needed education and resources, my connection to the aging and care process goes much deeper.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my own multi-generational family living together in one home. I was 4 or 5 when my grandmother moved into our home to help care for my sisters and I while our parents worked. Soon after, her father and grandfather moved in as well. We had 5 generations living under one roof! That was a beautifully chaotic adventure and knowing what I know now, I have so much respect for what my parents and grandmother did.

Fast forward to age 24. Newly married and pregnant with our first child, I spent several months with my in-laws to help care for my husband’s grandmother who had Alzheimer’s. Fast forward again to about 2009 – Wes and I have two teenagers about to head to college and his mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years later, my mother is diagnosed with cancer. Several years after that Wes’ stepdad is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his father is suffering from severe dementia. You can see where this is going right? For the better part of the last 10 years we have been the caregivers. We see it as an honor and privilege to have been able to do that for our parents.

The key to navigating our later years is being proactive about gathering information before we get there and staying engaged once we do. To be sage is to be wise. There is wisdom in taking the time to ask questions, seek solutions and know your options before the need arises.

Each week we will discuss relevant topics of aging with experts who can help us to understand and be better prepared for aging. We’ll also introduce you to some Sage Agers who are totally owning their journeys through life. No topic will be off limits and we will deliver open and honest conversation meant to educate and empower our listeners. Each episode will also be available in video and blog formats.

Whether you are proactively seeking to broaden your own knowledge, a caregiver for a loved one or a professional working in the aging care industry, this podcast is for you. We hope you will join us as we explore and celebrate Sage Aging.