There are many reasons your elderly relative may be going through legal
proceedings. Perhaps they gained a disability in the military and require VA disability pay, they need assistance in sorting their will or they have complicated financial matters to see to. Whatever the reason, your elderly relative might need your support during this time, and it’s important to make sure they know that you are there for them. So, how can you support your elderly relative during legal procedures?
When our relatives get older, the dynamic between you and them changes. For example, if your elderly relative seeking legal support is your parent, you might see a shift between them caring for you, and you caring for them. But, whatever the nature of the relationship is, it’s important that your elderly relative knows that you are present and will be able to help them. This might mean attending meetings on their behalf, or going with them to provide support. Or perhaps it’s just being present over the phone or via email. When you meet face to face, it might mean staying off your phone and being engaging in their company.
If your elderly relative asks you to attend meetings with lawyers with or for them, it’s always useful to ask questions. The legal system might be new to you and your relative, and therefore you may feel uncertain about the process. Key questions to ask a lawyer are: how long will the case take? What experience does the lawyer have? And how much will everything cost? If you’re worried that you might forget to ask certain questions, take a notebook with you and write them down beforehand. Your relative will thank you for being astute and making sure they get all the relevant information. Just consult with them first, because they might want to ask the questions.
Depending on the nature of the case and the lawyer, your elderly relative might not be able to afford the services they require. Whilst this entirely comes down to your own financial situation, you might be in a position where you can offer them financial assistance. This is something you should talk about with them tactfully and kindly.
The key to supporting others is learning how to effectively communicate. This means listening when people speak and offering sympathy, solutions and anecdotes, instead of simply smiling and nodding. It might also mean saying things that are potentially uncomfortable or difficult; voicing your concerns and making sure that your relative understands what you are thinking and feeling. When an elderly relative is going through legal proceedings, which can be confusing and potentially stressful, you should encourage them to speak about the situation and voice any worries that they have. They will feel relieved once they’ve explained the problem and you can come up with solutions or tactics together as a team. A problem shared is a problem halved, after all.
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