You often hear about “The Talk” when it comes to opening the sit down conversation with an elder parent to discuss their long term care plans and needs. It’s important not to short-change your aging parent or your family by making this just one conversation. Rather, the goal should be to create an open, honest dialogue where your loved ones can discuss their needs and wants for the future. Here’s why.
The Importance of Planning Ahead
All too often the conversation about senior living first comes up after something has happened – a health scare, safety concern or perhaps a chronic condition that’s getting worse. Usually by that point the need is immediate which can not only limit your options in finding the right place for your aging parent, but it can also make it harder to adjust for everyone.
Keep in mind that your parents may also have common aging fears about loss of independence, declining health, losing loved ones and being isolated and lonely in the back of their mind already – senior living is often seen as the tipping point to this.
By talking with them before a crisis happens, you give your parent time to feel comfortable opening up to you about those fears and their wishes going forward. Because it’s not just about senior living in and of itself, rather it’s their future so they deserve to have some say and control.
Peace of Mind for Your Aging Parents (And You)
Yes, these conversations are hard to have – for both of you! You don’t want to put them on the spot or have them thinking you want to send them away. They, as your parent, don’t want to seem vulnerable in front of you. So, it just gets put off.
But in not doing so, you’re all left to wonder (or assume) what the other is thinking which can strain the relationship. Not to mention, should a crisis strike and your parent is no longer able to speak for themselves, the family will be faced with the responsibility of making decisions without really knowing what they want.
Instead, take the pressure off for everyone and start talking with your loved one about the future in a way that shows them you’re on their side and you want to listen, not make decisions for them. A good way to do this is by asking questions about their needs and wants such as:
- How can we help you stay independent?
- Do you feel comfortable managing your medications and doctor’s appointments?
- Would you prefer not to cook anymore?
- Do you still enjoy driving?
- How do you feel about managing the house, yard and day-to-day chores/errands?
- Do you ever worry about living alone?
- What safety concerns do they have for the house, if any?
- Are you able to connect with friends as much as you’d like?
- Would you like to have more opportunities to stay active and have fun?
- Are there any new hobbies you’d like to try or things you’d like to learn?
By showing empathy and patience as they answer, you may find your aging parent is relieved to have the opportunity to share how they’re feeling and will be more willing to do so going forward which offers tremendous peace of mind for the entire family.
At the end of the day, you all have the same goal: keeping your aging parents as safe, healthy and independent as possible while maintaining their dignity. And open, ongoing communication is one of the best ways to get there.
For more information, join us for “It is time to have THE TALK? Tough Conversations with Aging Loved Ones,” a Facebook Live Q&A event on February 11 at 6 p.m. CST. Or, contact us today to schedule a virtual tour.