As people age, their physical and mental capacities gradually wane. As an adult child with elderly parents, stepping in and encouraging some form of elder care can be helpful for everyone involved.
Having a Productive Conversation
As your parents age and begin showing signs of physical problems and/or mental deterioration, it’s important to host regular family meetings where you plan for the future. Obviously the nature of these meetings will depend on how receptive your parents are to the idea, but it’s important to try, regardless of the circumstances.
Here are some tips to ensure these conversations are productive:
Ask How Your Parents Are Doing
It’s imperative that you begin these meetings properly. If you come in and rattle off a bunch of reasons why you think they need to sell their house and move into an assisted living facility, it’s probably not going to go so well. So instead of immediately pushing an agenda, you should simply ask how your parents are doing.
Depending on your parents’ personalities, they might immediately tell you all about what they’re going through, how they’re feeling, etc. Or they might clam up and act like nothing is going on. Either way, it’s best to begin by putting the proverbial ball in their court.
Discuss Their Wishes
This step sort of goes hand in hand with the first suggestion. If they don’t come out and say what they’re thinking, go ahead and ask them what their long-term wishes are. In other words, what do they want to do if [insert hypothetical scenarios?] By framing the conversation with future tense hypotheticals, you’re able to tap into their mindset without seeming forceful.
Express Your Concerns
Your parents probably aren’t thinking about their long-term care situation through your lens. If they’re only thinking about it in terms of how it makes them feel, they may not realize how they’re impacting you with their decisions (good or bad).
Now’s a great time to express your concerns so that your parents understand where you and your siblings stand. For example, if you have to travel two hours round trip to see your parents multiple times per week, this puts a real burden on you. That needs to register with them – not so they’ll feel guilty, but so they can make a decision that’s right for everyone involved.
Give Your Parents Options
Your parents may not be educated on all of the senior care and living options they have to choose from. In these discussions, you should highlight all of the options. These may include:
- Age restricted communities where your parents can live with people in a similar stage of life.
- Assisted living facilities where they can retain much of their freedoms and get assistance with certain challenges like medication, bathing, etc.
- Nursing homes where your parents get 24-hour supervision and care for physical and mental health needs.
- Memory care facilities for parents who are suffering from dementia.
- Hospice care can be the right choice for a parent who is fighting a terminal disease, and has finally decided to forgo care in order to become more comfortable in their final days.
Obviously these aren’t the only options, but these are typically the ones that most parents and adult children discuss when aging in place is no longer the best option.
Agree to Disagree
As long as your parents have the mental ability to make decisions for themselves, you can’t force them to do anything. And while it’s never easy to watch someone you love make a decision you don’t favor, there’s something to be said for agreeing to disagree. You don’t want this situation to put a permanent wedge in your relationship.
Let it Breathe
One of the worst things you can do in a situation like this is come across as forceful. While you want to get things moving along and encourage your elderly parents to make a smart decision that’s easy on everyone, you likely won’t do anyone any favors by speeding things along.
Article Submitted By Community Writer